Minimize the Effects of Volatile Organic Compounds in Your Home
VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) are a major group of elements and chemicals found in numerous manufactured goods and household products used to preserve your home. After these compounds have been introduced into your home, they can be discharged or “off-gassed” into the indoor air that your family breathes. The chances are that you may not be able to smell these chemicals at all, but they can still become a serious health risk to your family and loved ones.
Here are the Main Potential Sources of VOCs in Your Home
- Upholstery and foam stuffing
- Cleaning products and air fresheners
- Gasoline and most other kinds of fuel (including wood burning fires)
- Dry cleaning products
- Paint, varnishes, and adhesives
- Many types of modern vinyl flooring products
- Composite wood products
The majority of these products are usually found in personal care products or in building materials.
The Potential Health Effects of VOC Exposure
The potential hazard of breathing in any chemical compounds is dependent on the total duration and the amount of particle contamination in the air.
Inhaling low concentrations of VOC’s for extended periods of time might raise your probability of chronic health issues. Recent studies seem to suggest that extended exposure to VOCs might increase symptoms for those with asthma or other chronic breathing problems. This would also apply to those who are acutely vulnerable to allergies or who cannot tolerate chemical odors.
It’s extremely important to keep in mind that VOCs relate to an extensive group of chemical compounds. Each substance has its own level of toxicity and subsequently has its own level of potential medical harm to members of the household.
Typical Indications of Exposure to Ongoing VOC’s Involve:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Central nervous system damage
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Asthma symptoms
- Liver or kidney damage
How Much Exposure to VOCs Can Most People Tolerate?
Clearly its best to minimize exposure as much as possible to any of the household products mentioned above. Evidently, many of them are used on a frequent basis in most homes, so it makes sense to take care when using them. For example, whenever using this class of products always make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the area which allows clean fresh air to mitigate the negative effects of these chemicals. For example, simply by opening windows to maintain a cross flow of fresh air or by using electric fans to create enough air flow to make sure chemical concentrations are kept at a low level.
If you do feel your health has been impacted by any kind of a chronic breathing condition while working with these products, it might be prudent to contact your doctor to rule out the possibility of VOC contamination.
Up to this point, most of the studies that have taken place that test for exposure to these toxic chemical irritants have been undertaken only investigating one chemical at a time. It’s much more difficult to design ongoing testing regimes that account for all the possible mixtures of different chemicals.
What are the Potential Risks for Exposure to VOC’s?
Obviously, anyone who has breathing problems or other respiratory issues like asthma or allergies are much more likely to suffer from toxic VOC’s. You should also keep a close eye on the elderly or any young children in the home who may be more susceptible to illness related to chemical irritation.
How to Lower VOC Contamination in Your Home
The best way to reduce the amount of VOC’s is to search your home thoroughly for any unused supplies used for home decoration. For example, did you stash away any of these domestic supplies: cleaning products, paints, varnishes, adhesives, air fresheners? Rather than keeping these kinds of products in storage in your house, it’s a good idea to remove any material that produce VOC’s.
First, conduct an inspection of your home for the common sources of VOCs. Look for supplies of unused chemicals, such as paints, varnishes, solvents, or adhesives. Only buy as much as you need of these kinds of household products and throw out any that’s left over.
If you absolutely need to keep them, store them in an outdoor shed or your garage. Remember that products like vinyl flooring or carpets off-gas VOC’s especially when they are new. If at all possible, try to install these kinds of products during warmer weather so you can open windows for good ‘cross flow’ of fresh air. In this case you’ll want to ventilate rooms with new flooring as much as possible after the initial installation. Contact your local county to find out about nearby hazardous waste collection sites so that you can dispose of these products safely.
A-1 Certified Environmental Services LLC performs VOC Testing for COMMERCIAL Projects as well as for RESIDENTIAL Testing.
A-1 Certified Environmental Services, LLC covers VOC Testing in Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Vallejo, San Leandro, Pleasanton, Alameda, Concord, Danville, Walnut Creek, Orinda and most regions of California.