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Cause and Effects of VOCs In Your Home

Posted in Blog | Indoor Air Quality Inspection | VOC Testing on March 15th, 2018 by Hunter Adams

Your home is your safe place. It is your sanctuary from the outside world, and it’s important to make sure that it is free of any dangers that could be lurking in the background without your knowledge. A few common examples are mold, lead, asbestos, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

What are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. They include a variety of chemicals, which can have short- and long-term adverse health effects.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors than outdoors. They can be up to ten times higher indoors! This can be very dangerous to the health of everyone in your home.

Health effects may include:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

The extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed.

Immediate symptoms people have experienced soon after exposure are:

  • Eye and respiratory tract irritation
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • visual disorders and memory impairment

So what actually causes VOCs in the home?

Household Cleaners. Bathroom and kitchen cleaners, as well as furniture polish, laundry detergent and window cleaners all contain VOCs, which can irritate many people’s respiratory tracts.

Personal Care Products. Everything from hairspray and cologne to perfume and nail polish can contain VOCs and may even ignite asthma symptoms in some people.

Engineered Wood Products. Plywood, particleboard and fiberboard can all release VOCs into the air in your home. 

Countertops. You don’t have to invest in granite countertops to avoid VOCs but beware of the cheaper countertops that may disintegrate over time. 

Cabinets. Several different kinds of cabinets can release VOCs into the air. 

Air Fresheners. Air fresheners may make your home smell better, but they may not necessarily make it any safer for those inside it. 

Mattresses. If you’ve ever noticed a strong odor after opening a new mattress, that may have been VOCs.

Carpeting. New carpeting is especially prone to releasing VOCs into the air.

Paint and Paint Stripper. If you’re ever painting inside, be sure to turn on a few fans and open any nearby windows, so the room will be well ventilated. 

Fuel. Both oil and gasoline can release VOCs into your home and garage.

Just because you have these items in your home doesn’t mean there are VOCs present. If you’d like to test your home for volatile organic compounds, we offer VOC testing in Maryland.

At MD Mold Testing, we don’t just perform air testing in Maryland. If you think that your home might have lead or radon in it, or if you’d like us to perform a Maryland home asbestos inspection, call us today at 301-717-1454, and ask about our same day service.


Published: April 30, 2014 | Revised: March 15, 2018