Staying healthy is important to everyone, and of the ways to do this is by reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are a type of chemical found in many products used in homes and offices.
There are many ways that VOCs can enter your home, including everyday products and supplies like furniture, carpeting, paints, air freshener, and cleaning supplies.
There are, however, several ways to get rid of VOCs in your house, including air purifiers, ozone generators, activated carbon filters, potted plants, and professional help.
You can also do certain things to reduce your exposure to VOCs, including ventilation, minimal usage, proper storage, and disposal, among others.
VOCs in The Home: What Next?
Where do VOCs Come From?
Volatile organic compounds are emitted from many common household products. Furniture, carpeting, paints, and cleaning supplies can all release harmful chemicals into the air that you breathe.
Other household products that emit VOCs include air fresheners, stored automotive parts, and dry-cleaned clothing.
In addition to these everyday items, other sources of VOCs include gasoline fumes, aerosol sprays, pesticides, and even some foods.
Building materials and some office equipment like printers are also sources of VOCs.
What Are Some Common VOCs Found in The Home?
Some common types of VOCs include benzene, formaldehyde, and commonly used solvents like acetone or methyl ethyl ketone.
Benzene is often released from items such as furniture made with pressed wood products that use adhesives containing urea-formaldehyde resins (UFAs).
Formaldehyde is typically emitted by building materials, including plywood paneling, particleboard, hardwood floors or cabinets, fiberglass insulation, and ceiling tiles.
Solvent odors come from paints, paint strippers, aerosol sprays, air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and scented candles.
How Long do VOCs Take to Dissipate?
VOCs can take days, weeks, or even months to dissipate from a room. The length of time it takes for them to disappear depends on the type of VOC and the amount that was released.
Some compounds, such as formaldehyde, can stick around in the air for quite some time. Others like benzene evaporate more quickly.
How Can I Reduce my Exposure to VOCs?
Don’t bring them into your home
Avoid harmful chemicals in your house by reducing the number of VOC-containing products you bring in and using them for a shorter time.
If possible, choose furniture made from natural materials such as cotton, wool, or cork instead of polyurethane foam rubber which releases toxic gases over time.
Ventilate your home
One of the best ways to reduce your exposure to VOCs is to ensure that you have proper ventilation in your home.
Open windows and use fans to bring fresh air into the house when possible.
Buy only what you need
Most products produce high levels of VOCs when in use, but they can still produce fumes when stored in sealed containers.
To avoid this, buy products in quantities that you will use soon so that you don’t leave any open unused products like paints lying around.
Store them away
If you do have products that produce VOCs, store them in a well-ventilated area. This includes both indoor and outdoor storage.
If you can, store them in a detached garage or shed. Additionally, try to keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
Try not to overuse products that emit harmful chemicals like air fresheners, cleaning supplies, or scented candles.
Follow instructions and precautions
Ensure that you read all directions on products and ensure you meet all the set precautions.
This will help you avoid using too much of the product, which could cause it to release more VOCs.
Get a good dry cleaner
Not all dry cleaners are created equal. Some use harsh chemicals like perchloroethylene (PERC) to clean your clothes, releasing harmful VOCs into the air.
Ask your cleaner if they use a safer alternative like wet cleaning or CO² technology. If your dry-cleaned items have a strong chemical smell every time you pick them, it is time to change your dry-cleaner.
Don’t allow cigarette smoke in your house
Secondhand smoke from cigars and cigarettes is a major source of indoor air pollution. It can contain high levels of VOCs, including benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene.
Dispose of unneeded chemicals safely
When you are done with certain products like paints, cleaning supplies, or air fresheners, make sure you dispose of them responsibly and safely, according to guidelines.
Minimize pesticide use: Reduce the need for pesticides by keeping your house clean and using other integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
What Are Some Common Symptoms of VOC Poisoning?
Some common symptoms of VOC exposure include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, conjunctival irritation, headache, throat discomfort, and allergic skin reaction.
In some cases, exposed individuals can also experience respiratory problems such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or a runny nose.
When exposed to high concentrations of these chemicals, you can even experience other health effects like loss of consciousness or damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, and nervous system.
What Should I do if I Start Feeling Sick After Being Exposed to VOCs?
If you experience any of the common symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs, it is important to seek medical attention right away.
Be sure to tell your doctor about the products you were exposed to and how long you were exposed for.
In some cases, individuals who have been exposed to high levels of these chemicals can require hospitalization.
What Removes VOCs?
There are several different ways you can use to help reduce the number of harmful chemicals in your home.
Most of the products that take care of VOCs use HEPA filtration systems for improved performance against allergens, dust mites, and other particles that can be harmful to your health.
You will find that these solutions work best for specific types of contaminants, so it is important to figure out the source of the VOCs before you begin using them.
If you do not feel that you have the time or skills to test for and remove VOCs in your house, a professional might be able to help.
Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of VOCs?
Air purifiers are a fantastic way to help reduce your exposure to VOCs, and they can be used at any time.
There are many types of air purifiers available in the market, but most work by passing the air through a filter that captures the pollutants.
An air purifier turns over the air in the room, which helps trap some harmful chemicals and increase air circulation. Some also use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses.
Since not all of them are made to capture airborne VOCs, before you purchase one, you have to know if it will do what you need it to do.
To effectively reduce VOCs in your home, you will need to find an air purifier that is specifically designed to target these compounds in your home.
Remember that if the source of the VOCs is not identified and eliminated, the air purifier will only provide temporary relief.
It’s important that you find an air purifier that meets your specific needs and is certified by an independent organization like AHAM or EPA.
Activated Carbon Filters And VOCs
Air purifiers with carbon filters remove VOCs and other harmful gaseous pollutants like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde from the air using adsorption.
Activated carbon is made by heating coal, wood, or other organic materials in the absence of oxygen until they are turned into charcoal.
The charcoal is then treated with a chemical to increase its ability to absorb chemicals and pollutants from the air.
As air goes through the filter, the harmful gases stick to the carbon particles.
The carbon particles in the adsorption area have many little holes that increase the surface area on which the VOCs stick.
The more pollutants stick on the carbon particles, the less the surface area becomes. When the surface area becomes fully saturated with the gaseous pollutants, it becomes ineffective at cleaning the air.
At this point, air passing through the carbon filter may displace the trapped gaseous pollutants, which might cause them to be reintroduced into the air.
To prevent this from happening, you need to clean or change your carbon filters often, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations and how you use them.
Ozone generators are devices that produce ozone gas which can be used to clean surfaces or air. The ozone gas can attach and break down VOCs, thereby minimizing pollution.
Ozone reacts with the particular VOCs in your home and oxidizes them without releasing any harmful byproduct.
Ozone generators come in many different sizes, from small tabletop models to large industrial machines.
When ozone is used to clean the air, it can help remove odors, VOCs, and smoke, and other particles.
However, while this method is effective, it can only be used to remove certain types of VOCs, so before you use it, make sure you know the type of VOCs you are dealing with and if they can be cleared by ozone.
Potted can help remove VOCs from the air through adsorption and biotransformation. Biotransformation refers to a process by which an organism modifies a chemical compound.
It can be done through either biological or non-biological processes.
When it comes to removing pollutants, some plants are able to bio transform gaseous compounds into less harmful substances using enzymes inside of their tissue cells.
However, the plants’ ability to reduce VOC levels depends on certain factors such as plant species and light intensity.
If you are not comfortable testing for and removing VOCs from your home, there are professionals who can help.
A qualified technician can test the air quality in your home, identify the sources of contamination and make recommendations on how to reduce exposures to harmful chemicals.
They might also be able to help you find specific products that target the VOCs in your house. While this might be more expensive than doing it yourself, it can save you time and hassle.
It is important to be aware of the products that release VOCs and try to avoid using them whenever possible.
Before purchasing them, be sure to read the labels on paints, furniture, and other household items to confirm that they do not contain any harmful chemicals.
To be safe, opt for natural cleaners instead of harsh chemical cleaners when cleaning your house.
Do not also allow cigarette smoke in your house, and remember to store and dispose of products appropriately.
Additionally, open up your windows and regularly allow fresh air to circulate through your home.
This will help dissipate any VOCs that may be present and improve the overall air quality in your house.
When trying to get rid of VOCs from your home, several options are available to you, including air purifiers, ozone generators, and activated carbon filters.
Each of these products works differently to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in your air, so it is important to figure out what might be causing the problem before you begin using them.
You can do this through research or consulting a professional.
If you are looking for ways to reduce your exposure to harmful VOCs in your home, using one of these methods may be helpful.
If you are not comfortable testing for and removing VOCs yourself, consider hiring a professional who can help.
Remember to talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns about exposures to these compounds.