Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include benzene, dichlorobenzene, methylene, xylene, acetone, ethanol, formaldehyde, toluene, and many other substances. They can evaporate at room temperature or off-gas, and they can lower your Denham Springs, Louisiana, home’s indoor air quality. Since VOCs are gasses and not particles such as dust, pollen, or pet dander, most air filters can’t capture them. Fortunately, you and your family can manage them with the right information. You should know why volatile organic compounds are dangerous, their common sources, how to avoid them, and how to reduce them.
Why VOCs Are Dangerous
If your home’s air has a lot of volatile organic compounds, you and your family members could be experiencing sinus problems, rashes, eye irritation, headaches, dizziness, asthma symptoms, sore throats, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and many other health problems. You might feel like you have a cold that won’t go away, or you might feel better when you leave your house and worse when you come back. VOCs can also cause bad smells and keep your guests from feeling comfortable. Some volatile organic compounds may even increase cancer risks for the people exposed to them regularly.
The Most Common Sources of VOCs
Using fuel such as wood, coal, gasoline, or natural gas releases VOCs. They also come from many commercial paints, varnishes, air fresheners, perfumes, glues, cleaners, and pesticides. The glues in many types of particle board contain formaldehyde, and mothballs emit dichlorobenzene. Paint often has benzene or toluene, and xylene comes from car exhaust. Tobacco smoke and stored fuel such as gasoline or propane contain benzene as well. Many types of nail polish remover and furniture polish use acetone.
Avoiding Volatile Organic Compounds
When possible, you should avoid products that contain VOCs. Store pesticides, paints, glues, paint thinners, fuel, cleaners, and similar materials in a detached garage or shed. Use the same area to keep gas-powered tools such as leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and chainsaws. That way, you and your family members can minimize exposure to any VOCs that off-gas from these substances. You should also throw away old plastic packaging, containers, and air fresheners immediately and cover particle board furniture and other items with a nontoxic sealant.
When you shop for furniture, choose VOC-free products when they’re available.
For example, you can use potpourri or essential oils instead of commercial air fresheners. You can also bake some cookies or simmer some cloves or cinnamon sticks on your stove. Water and baking soda make a good cleaner for almost any surface, and olive oil with lemon juice makes a great furniture polish. To prevent biological growth in your bathroom, clean with a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of tea tree oil. There’s no way to stay away from all harmful VOCs, but you can keep most of them out of your home.
If your home has high levels of volatile organic compounds, there are several ways to reduce them. Ventilation removes stale, contaminated air and replaces it with fresh air. You can open your doors or windows, use exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms, or have an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) installed in your ductwork to conserve energy. It removes stale indoor air from your home and replaces it with preconditioned, filtered fresh air.
Many houseplants, including aloe vera, spider plants, and chrysanthemums, can capture VOCs. Plants also produce oxygen, eliminate bad smells, and make your house seem more welcoming to guests. Philodendrons absorb formaldehyde, and Chinese evergreens can capture xylene and formaldehyde. They also have attractive silver leaves with green spots, and they absorb many toxins, including formaldehyde and xylene. You should keep several types of plants in different rooms to catch as many VOCs as possible.
One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of Baton Rouge can help you improve your indoor air quality. Satisfaction is guaranteed, and you can call us anytime at (225) 320-4162 for excellent, friendly service.