How to Remove VOC Odor in the California Region
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases which are released from either solids or liquids. They are a mixture that consist of many chemicals and some of them can cause serious health effects for people.
We provide VOCs and Odor Removal services in the San Francisco and Los Angeles regions as well as covering most other areas in California including San Jose, Long Beach, Oakland and Sacramento.
Call to set up an appointment: 888-217-2719.
Indoors VOC concentrations tend to be higher (up to ten times) compared to outdoor levels. A wide range of products can emit VOCs, including paints, lacquers cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, furniture office equipment like copiers, printers correction fluids and carbonless copy paper craft materials like glues, adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions. Household products frequently utilize chemicals as ingredients. Organic solvents are present in paints varnishes and waxes as well as numerous cleaning agents for disinfection purposes or cosmetics. They are also found in degreasers used for hobbies. Fuels contain chemicals too and when these products are used or stored, they can release compounds.
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Many VOCs have unpleasant odors that may cause discomfort and lead to complaints from individuals occupying a building. The common odor issue from typical household use includes cleaning products, such as degreasers, solvents, air fresheners, adhesives, paint fumes, and fuel odors.
Exposure to these common household goods can lead to symptoms such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. More serious condition might present themselves as headaches, nausea, dizziness, exacerbation of asthma symptoms and other health issues. People who are particularly vulnerable include the elderly, children well as those with pre-existing health conditions.
In addition to health impacts on building occupants, VOC emissions contribute to outdoor air pollution. For example, VOCs can also contribute to fine particulate matter formation. Reducing VOC emissions indoors will help improve outdoor air quality.
Common Sources of VOCs in Buildings
There are many potential sources that can contribute to VOC odors in indoor environments. Common sources include the following.
- Paints, adhesives, varnishes, stains, and other coatings used during building construction or renovations. The highest levels are emitted when these products are first applied, but they continue releasing VOCs as they cure over time.
- Composite or engineered wood products used for flooring, cabinets, furniture and other building materials. They contain resins and glues which release formaldehyde and other VOCs.
- Cleaning and disinfecting products, including chlorine bleach, solvents, and air fresheners. VOCs are emitted as these products are used and allowed to dry on surfaces.
- Office equipment such as printers, copiers and laminators emit VOCs when being operated and from ink toner and heated glue.
- Fuels such as natural gas, propane, kerosene, and gasoline produce VOC emissions when stored in tanks or containers, as well as during combustion.
- Mold and mildew growth on building materials release musty VOCs. High humidity levels accelerate mold growth.
- Automotive products like fuels, paints, degreasers, and solvents produce VOC emissions in attached garages. These can migrate into adjacent occupied spaces.
Strategies for Identifying VOC Odor Sources
Pinpointing the specific sources responsible for VOC odors can be challenging. Here are some strategies for identifying sources:
- Conduct a walkthrough inspection of all areas where odors have been reported. Be systematic and check all potential VOC sources. Get close to surfaces and deeply inhale air at potential source locations.
- Interview occupants about when odors are most noticeable, whether they come and go or are persistent, and where odors seem most intense. This can provide clues about sources.
- Review maintenance schedules and activity logs to identify recent building repairs, renovations or equipment servicing where VOC-containing products may have been used.
- Use real-time VOC monitoring equipment to sample air at locations where odors are strongest. Look for spikes in total VOCs and/or specific compounds like formaldehyde which point to sources.
- If you hire a professional indoor air quality specialist, they can send samples of materials such as adhesives, coatings, caulks and office supplies to a qualified lab for VOC emission rate testing. This can confirm which products are releasing VOCs.
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Technologies for Removing VOCs and Odors from Indoor Air
Once VOC odor sources have been identified, here are the two main air cleaning technologies that can help remove VOCs and odors:
- Activated carbon air filters adsorb and trap VOCs through highly porous carbon material with massive surface area. Effective at removing a broad range of VOCs. Filters need replacing periodically as carbon becomes saturated.
- Hydroxyl radical generators produce hydroxyl radicals that oxidize VOCs and odorous compounds. Hydroxyl radicals are one of the most effective air sanitizers found in nature. They can eliminate hard-to-remove VOCs like formaldehyde.
Implementing an Effective VOC Odor Removal Plan
Here are key steps to implement a VOC odor removal plan for your building.
- Perform a thorough inspection and interview occupants to identify all potential VOC sources, then mitigate sources wherever feasible. This might involve substituting building materials, office supplies or cleaning products with low-VOC alternatives.
- Seal known sources in containers or relocate them to isolated areas with dedicated exhaust ventilation. Remove badly contaminated materials that can't be adequately sealed, like moldy drywall.
- Increase ventilation rates and airflow in areas where source mitigation isn't adequate to remove odors on its own. Make sure to meet or exceed minimum outdoor air ventilation rates per building codes and ASHRAE standards.
- Monitor VOC levels periodically to gauge odor removal effectiveness and know when to replace filters or service equipment.
- Educate occupants on the sources and hazards of VOCs, and train staff on proper use of chemical products to minimize unnecessary VOC emissions.
Following a strategic odor removal plan using source control, ventilation improvements, and air cleaning will create a healthier indoor environment free of annoying and potentially harmful VOC odors.
We offer VOCs and Odor Removal in the San Francisco and Los Angeles regions as well as covering most areas in California including San Jose, Long Beach, Oakland and Sacramento.
Call today to set up an appointment: 888-217-2719.