6 Tips To Reduce VOCs In Your Home
Many homes are unknowingly harboring health hazardous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals are emitted by numerous products inside the home and can lead to numerous health conditions and serious illnesses. What are VOCs and how do these chemicals affect your health?
The following information reveals the most common culprits of VOC emissions and what you can do to decrease your family’s exposure to these chemicals.
What are VOCs?
VOCs are emitted as gases that form hazardous chemical compounds when they come into contact with the air.
Examples of VOCs include:
The most common VOC-producing culprits found inside the home include mold, lead, and asbestos. These chemicals can also be emitted from numerous other sources in the home, including flooring, furniture, and office equipment.
Dangers of VOCs
VOC levels are 10X higher inside the home than outdoors. These chemicals put the health and wellness of everyone in your home in danger, including household pets.
They include a variety of chemicals, which can have short- and long-term adverse health effects. The effects of VOCs range from mild illness to serious organ damage and disease.
Immediate Symptoms Include:
- Eye and Respiratory Tract Irritation
- Vision Issues
- Memory Impairment
Long-term or regular exposure to VOCs may lead to additional health issues and ailments.
Other Health Issues Include:
- Loss of Coordination
- Internal Organ Damage
- Damage to Central Nervous System
- Certain Cancers
The extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed.
Young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are the most suspectable to the adverse health effects caused by VOCs.
Causes of VOCs
There are numerous items throughout the home that may emit hazardous chemicals. Some of these items are necessary to use while other items can be replaced with a safer alternative.
For example, the majority of household cleaners contain ethanol, including glass cleaners and laundry soap. Being aware of this makes it possible to take steps to minimize exposure, including opening windows while you perform house cleaning tasks.
There are numerous household cleaning and personal care products that may contain VOCs.
Cleaning Products Include:
- Bathroom Cleaners
- Kitchen Cleaners
- Furniture Polish
- Laundry Detergent
- Window Cleaners
- Air Freshener
There are also numerous personal hygiene products that may emit VOCs.
Personal Care Products Include:
- Hair Dye
- Nail Polish
Always check the label on the back for the ingredients list of any household cleaners and hygiene products that you purchase for yourself and/or your family.
Many furniture items throughout the home contain VOCs due to products applied during the manufacturing or treatment processes. These include sealants, flame-retardant coatings, and applications to decrease the likelihood of stains.
Furniture Items That May Contain VOCs Include:
- Padded Sofas, Chairs, Etc.
- Plastic Furniture
Check all prospective furniture for VOC emitting components, including polyurethane foam, particle board, fiberboard, and plywood.
Flooring and Countertops
Formaldehyde is one of the most common VOCs used in the materials used to manufacture, install, and to seal flooring. Hazardous VOCs may be emitted from carpet, vinyl, and hardwood for years after installation.
Countertops made from cheaper materials are also more likely to disintegrate over time and emit VOCs. Choosing high-quality flooring and countertop materials is the safest way to reduce the amount of VOCs inside the home.
Paint and Paint Thinner
Paint products are one of the leading and most well-known causes of VOCs. The gases emitted when stirring, during application, and while drying are toxic to humans and pets. These dangers also apply to paint coatings, thinners, spray paints, and other paint-related products.
Always open doors, and windows, and wear personal protective equipment when painting or using these products inside the home.
6 Tips to Reduce VOCs In Your Home
The following 5 tips can help decrease or eliminate harmful chemicals inside your home.
1.) Improve Air Quality Naturally
Increase airflow naturally by opening windows and using fans throughout the home. Adding a few plants around the home can also effectively remove VOCs from the air.
2.) Choose Quality Furniture
Choose furniture items that are less likely to emit VOCs, for example, solid hardwood. Particleboard and plywood contain higher levels of VOCs because of their treatment and manufacturing processes.
3.) Allow Furniture To Off-Gas
The majority of the foam-containing furniture items, including mattresses, contain high levels of the VOC Toulene. Allow time for new furniture pieces to off-gas before allowing anyone to sleep on new mattresses. This is especially important for infants and young children.
4.) Never Heat Plastic
Plastic emits VOCs and should be avoided during food preparation, serving, and storage. The level of chemicals that are emitted increases significantly when plastic items are heated. Avoid heating plastic containers in the microwave.
The chemicals used to make plastic bottles are also known to have the potential to contaminate their contents. Avoid leaving plastic bottles in the car, sun, or in other high-temperature locations.
5.) Choose Safer Cleaners
Reduce your exposure to VOCs in household cleaners by choosing natural, safer alternatives. Baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, and water are all safer than bleach and other toxic cleaning agents. These items may not be effective in cleaning all areas of the home but any reduction in exposure is a positive move in the right direction.
6.) Routine VOC Testing
It is important to test the quality of the air that your family breathes on a routine basis. VOC testing can reveal can hazardous gases that may be present.
Contact MD Mold Testing
Contact MD Mold today to learn more about VOCs and how a professional can help ensure that your home is safe. MD Mold Testing provides environmental testing services 7 days a week and serves locations throughout Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Delaware.