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VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are airborne chemicals which originate from all sorts of products that can be found in your home or office. By coming into contact with large quantities of VOCs, poor indoor air quality could in fact be making you sick. To understand how VOCs work, and how to destroy them, let us first dive deeper into what they are made of and where they come from.

What are VOCs and where do they come from?

As we just said, VOCs are airborne chemicals in the form of gases, and they come with both short-term and long-term adverse health effects. We can find them in a wide range of household products which would explain why they are more present in indoor air rather than in outdoor air.

You might wonder… Why would chemicals like that be present in products that we use on a daily basis?

The answer to this is because they come from organic chemicals which are found as ingredients in these products. Therefore, by using these products, organic compounds can be released in the air of your home or office. VOCs can also be released, to some degree, when the products are just being stored1.

If you wish to learn which chemicals are considered as VOCs, here is a short list of common ones:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Benzene
  • Xylenes
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Toluene
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Naphthalene2

Yes, they are hard to pronounce, but this list should give you an idea of what VOCs are. Now, you just need to know where to look for them.

Where can these airborne chemicals be found?

VOCs can be found in many different places, but here is a list of common places where they can be emitted from:

  • Paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • Wood preservatives
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Cleansers and disinfectants
  • Moth repellents and air fresheners
  • Stored fuels and automotive products
  • Flooring materials
  • Glues
  • Varnish
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Vehicle exhaust

As you can see, that is a lot of VOC sources, most of which are pretty common in every household. This is why you need to pay attention to the quality of your indoor air. We might not see VOCs, but they sure do come with consequences as we talk about below.

Vocs particles floating in the air.

Effects of VOCs

Of course, there are risks associated with being in contact with too many chemicals. These risks though might not be that obvious as VOCs are not something that most people pay attention to or are aware of. Here are some effects that VOCs can have on you:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Cancer in animals and humans (only from certain VOCs)

Keep in mind, not all VOCs are as toxic as this list makes them out to be. It greatly depends on which chemicals we are looking at and on how long a person has been exposed to them. Nonetheless, VOCs are not to be taken lightly.

So, what can you do about them? Well, a good start would be to have enough ventilation in your house or office. That way, VOCs would be less likely to stay indoors. It is also important to always read the labels of products that you use. If they have any specific recommendations on how to use them in a safe manner, it is always best to follow the directions they give you. Also, make sure to always close your containers properly so that any chemical that is inside a product stays inside that product instead of making its way into your home.

If you have uncertainties about the amount of VOCs that are present in your home or office, it is always best to have certified indoor air quality monitors that can tell you how toxic your environment is in real time. If it turns out that the VOC levels are too high, it is best to contact professionals who can take care of it. Speaking of professionals…

A commercial and house cleaning service that destroys VOCs

We often forget about the essential things in our lives because we get used to having them around. Yet, it is these things that help us be the best version of ourselves. Hence why we must pay more attention to them just like we must pay more attention to the air that we breathe. If we keep forgetting about it, we will not notice when it gets too polluted.

There is a solution though for those of you who do not want to have to worry about having clean indoor air every day. This solution works via a process called photocatalysis. By applying it to indoor surfaces, it provides long lasting protection for up to 12 months. Moreover, this solution destroys 99.999% of pathogens, bacteria, viruses, VOCs and purifies the air around it. If you want more information on it, feel free to contact us and we will answer all your questions!

References

  1. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality
  2. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/air-quality/indoor-air-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds.html