What are VOCs and How do they Affect your Indoor Air?

If you’ve ever researched ways to keep your home healthy, you’ve likely come across the term “VOC.” You may not know, though, what a VOC is or why it’s important to the health of your home. In this article, we will take a look at VOCs, where they come from, why they’re harmful, and what you can do about them.

What Are VOCs?

The acronym VOC stands for “volatile organic compound.” Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are released in a gaseous form from various items around your home. All VOCs share the common trait of being harmful to your health, causing potential short-term and chronic health problems that can even lead to death.

Where Do VOCs Come From?

One of the problems of VOCs is that they’re released by a wide range of household items, many of which are difficult to do without. For example, cleaning chemicals are a common source of VOCs. Yet, without cleaning chemicals, it’s difficult to keep your home clean and healthy. VOCs are also released by personal care products, particularly products such as hair spray, nail polish, and others containing harsh chemicals.

Additionally, you can find VOCs in paints, stains, the upholstery on couches, carpet fibers, plastics, and a host of other household items. Plus, if you smoke, use a wood-burning fireplace, burn natural gas for any purpose, or do a variety of other common activities, you’re releasing VOCs into your home.

With so many ways to release VOCs, it’s easy to see why they’re so hard to get rid of. Through these different activities, you can release chemicals such as acetone, ethanol, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene into the air that you breathe every day.

How Do They Build Up?

Ultimately, it’s impossible to remove all volatile organic compounds from your home. In fact, in low enough concentrations, most VOCs aren’t terribly harmful. The problem is that in the closed environment of your home, VOCs can build up to become concentrated to dangerous levels.

Since you want to keep conditioned air inside your home, you tend to keep windows and doors closed. This prevents VOCs from escaping, which is when negative health outcomes can occur. Therefore, it’s important to have your air quality assessed by Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to check for VOCs, especially if you’ve had your home closed up for a long period of time.

What Are the Health Concerns?

The type and severity of health effects from VOCs in your home depend largely on the type and concentration of VOCs. Common symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and allergic skin reactions, among others. Typically, these symptoms recede once the concentrations of VOCs are brought down.

Unfortunately, there are many long-term health effects that can result from exposure to VOCs, as well. Many VOCs are suspected or known carcinogens, meaning you could be putting you and your family at risk of cancer if you don’t take action to lessen your exposure to VOCs. Other long-term effects include damage to internal organs and memory loss. It’s easy to see that, despite their prevalence, VOCs are no laughing matter.

How to Reduce Concentrations

At Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, we want you to be able to take action against VOCs in your home. Fortunately, there are several actions you can take that will reduce your exposure to VOCs.

One of the easiest things that you can do is open the windows around your home. By allowing outside air into your home and excess VOCs out, you help reduce the concentrations of VOCs. One way to speed up this process is to use fans in the open windows. One fan should face into your home to draw fresh air in while the other fan should face out to draw polluted air outside. Though not quite as effective, ceiling fans can also help in your battle against VOCs by circulating the air in a room to the point that the VOCs are pushed outside.

Another action you can take is to add some live plants around your home. Plants have an incredible capacity to remove VOCs as they go about the process of photosynthesis. When plants draw in carbon dioxide, they also draw in other harmful gases, including many common VOCs. The plants store these VOCs, releasing pure oxygen instead. For a beautiful solution that works long-term, it’s hard to beat a large selection of plants.

Of course, you can also install an air purifier from Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical. You can choose a unit that purifies the air in your entire home or a smaller unit that purifies the air in a single room. In any event, it’s important to ensure that the purifier has some type of activated charcoal filter that will actively remove VOCs from the air.

How to Move Forward

Another important aspect of lessening your exposure to VOCs is to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place. While you can’t eliminate all VOCs, you can make conscious decisions to choose less harmful products for everyday use. There are many types of cleaning chemicals and personal care items that are specially formulated with all-natural ingredients that won’t release VOCs.

You can also find naturally made furniture that isn’t coated in harmful chemicals. If you do have to bring something into your home that is likely to release VOCs, it’s a good idea to let that item sit in a well-ventilated space outside your home until it has a chance to “off-gas,” a term that simply refers to the process of allowing harmful chemicals to vent into the outside air.

We Care About Your Health

At Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical in Glendale, AZ, we want you and your family to thrive in your home. That’s why we do all we can to help you stay healthy with professional air-quality tests. By determining which types of chemicals are present in your home, we can make sound recommendations to help you remove them.

We also take care of your family by offering air conditioner and furnace repair, installation, and maintenance. We can even take care of duct cleaning and repair, ensuring that the air you breathe from your HVAC system is comfortable and healthy. Plus, we offer a full line of plumbing services, including tankless and traditional water heaters, sump pump repair and installation, water leak detection, clogged toilet repair, hydro jetting, sewer line repair, water softener repair and installation, and much more.

As a family-owned company, we understand the importance of taking care of your home. Our technicians work hard to ensure that you are completely satisfied before they leave your home. This commitment is part of why we’re rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau. We also have a large number of five-star reviews that speak to the satisfaction that customers experience when they use our services. If you are concerned about your home’s air quality, don’t hesitate to call us at Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical today.