Michael Lee, MS, TS, ELD (ABB) is the board certified Laboratory Director at Fertility Solutions. Michael prepared the following explanation of volatile organic compounds and how they factor into the results of fertility treatments and procedures performed in a laboratory setting.
VOC’s, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are found in the air to varying degrees. A volatile organic compound (VOC) is the name given to a substance that contains carbon and that evaporates (becomes a vapor) or “off-gases” at room temperature. Some examples of VOCs include: benzene, methylene chloride, hexane, toluene, trichloroethane, styrene, heptane and perchloroethyl.
Unlike people, eggs and embryos do not have a way to filter out any VOC’s that enter their environment. Eggs and embryos do not have a liver or lungs to catch these compounds in the air. These compounds can become toxic at high levels, especially to gametes that can’t filter them out.
At Fertility Solutions, we have sophisticated systems to filter the air in our IVF laboratory. We employ state-of-the-art HEPA and carbon/permanganate filter systems. HEPA filters out particulate matter down to 0.2 micrometers in size. The carbon and permanganate trap VOC’s that may be in the air from outside sources and remove it from the air that enters the laboratory.
We have strict criteria for the materials that enter our lab, and we regularly test the air for VOC’s to ensure that the eggs and embryos are not being exposed to unhealthy air quality. Our incubators (where the eggs and embryos spend much of their time) have an additional layer of filtration for the gasses that enter the incubator chambers to guarantee the highest possible air quality within the incubators. This translates to the best possible air for your eggs and embryos so that they are not compromised in any way by VOC pollution or bad air quality. This is just one of the details we assess constantly to provide the best outcomes for our patients.