One of the most common and natural VOCs in the atmosphere.

Terpenes are one of the largest and most varied groups of plant chemicals, released from plants (and some insects) as a by-product of metabolism.  With a strong odour and flavour to protect the plants, Terpenes are found naturally in flowers, plants, trees and grasses but are extremely high in Essential Oils, Conifers/Pine, and Eucalypts.

Terpenes are the major component of Rosin and of Turpentine produced from resin. 

Synthetically, Terpenes can be produced from Petrochemicals and are found in perfumes and cleaning products -both natural plant-based and synthetic and food flavourings.

They can cause symptoms such as wheezing, breathing problems, itchy, red skin and rashes.


Where to find them:

  • Plants: all species of trees, especially conifers, eucalyptus and pine.  Grasses and scented flowers are also high in terpenes
  • Essential Oils: perfumes and incense: Terpenes are the primary consitiuents of essential oils and perfumes.  Distilled or extracted by pressure from leaves, stems and fruits (especially citrus and Tea Tree)
  • Natural Flavouring: Essential Oils are widely used as a natural flavour additive to foods
  • Herbs & Spices: Allspice, Anise, Basil, Black pepper, Capers, Catnip, Caraway, Cardamom, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Ginger, Horehound, Mace, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Tarragon, Thyme and Turmeric
  • Resins, Copals & Balsams:  Conifer/Pine resins, Amber (amber jewellery, baby teething necklaces), raw incense and perfume 
  • Turpentine:  Rosin, organic solvents, paint thinners, varnishes, oil based paints – see Rosin for more
  • Natural Rubber: natural latex
  • Vitamin A: Carotenoids are terpenoids  
  • Cleaning Products:  Terpene- based cleaners eg, those containing d-limonene (from orange peel) or pinene (pine-sol) - think toilet cleaners & air fresheners....
  • Insecticides: Natural insecticides
  • Wood products: raw wood products and furniture esp. pine or eucalyptus

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