Organic solvents are volatile organic (carbon-based) compounds used mainly in degreasing processes, cleaning, paint thinners, etc. Because they contain various dangerous chemicals that vaporize at room temperature, many of them are considered particularly toxic.
Organic solvents include oxygenated solvents like alcohols (e.g. methanol), ketones (e.g. acetone), glycol ethers etc.; hydrocarbon solvents like aromatic compounds (e.g. benzene), and halogenated solvents like chlorinated hydrocarbons (e.g. chlorophenothane, or DDT).
Organic solvents are extremely useful for dissolving various substances, as cleaning agents, as reagents for various chemical reactions, for the manufacturing of paints, thinners, varnishes, plastics, footwear, household products etc.
As they are volatile and reactive to sunlight, they can yield so-called "ground-level ozone", which can be harmful for human health, as well as for all flora and fauna.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns especially of the carcinogenic nature of benzene, carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene, and 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane. Other organic solvents, like 2- methoxyethanol, 2-ethoxyethanol, and methyl chloride, entail reproductive hazards, and several organic solvents can entail neurotoxic effects in workers exposed to these substances.