The Impact of VOCs and Your Health – How to Prevent Exposure

For most people, outdoor air is the first thing they think of when considering air pollution. But according to the U.S. EPA, the air inside your home may be 2-5x more polluted than the outdoor air. 

Since many of us spend more time indoors than outside, our indoor air matters. Your family may be breathing in toxins day and night. Even worse, children are more vulnerable to the effects of polluted air. Sadly, there are lots of seemingly innocent household items that are full of potentially harmful chemicals. Many of the products you use at home contain VOCs. 

What are VOCs? 

Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that evaporate from a solid or liquid form. They are the most significant indoor air pollutants and can pose a risk to your family’s health. 

VOCs are typically found in products we use to build and maintain our homes, such as paint, pesticide, air fresheners, cleaners, disinfectants, nail polish remover, etc. 

When VOCs evaporate into the air, they become invisible. Some of them are also odorless. That means you and your family are probably already inhaling this toxic gas without you even knowing it. 

Health effects of VOCs

VOCs are known to cause frequent dizziness, headaches, eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation. If you have asthma, a long-term build-up of VOCs in your home can aggravate your symptoms. 

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of VOCs. In fact, studies suggest that children who live in homes with high VOC concentrations are at a greater risk of developing allergies, asthma, and eczema. 

Some VOCs are toxic enough and are known carcinogens. Individuals who are exposed to them for a long time can develop cancer. It can also cause damage to the kidney, liver, or central nervous system. 

Keep in mind, though, that not all VOCs are detrimental to our health. Some of them are produced naturally by plants and animals. The problem arises when they exist in the air in a mixture of tens of different types. And when you’ve been exposed to them for an extended period of time, then it becomes a health threat. 

Remember, the health effects depend on how much VOC is in the air and how long the person was exposed to this toxic gas. 

Are VOCs in paint dangerous? 

Painting your home is one of the simplest and cost-effective ways to freshen up your home. It covers up those unsightly stains and can protect your walls from wear and tear. But did you know that a typical can of paint contains VOCs? 

The smell of paint usually gives away the fact that you’re smelling something bad for your health. You see, paint contains VOC. It is released into the air as you paint a wall, and this why you develop a headache after painting. 

Although most VOCs leave the paint as the wall dries, not all of them do. Paint can release VOCs into the air years after the initial painting, putting your family at risk. The next you plan on repainting your indoor space, look for paints with a low VOC level. Also, make sure that the area is properly ventilated. Lastly, never store opened cans of paint and other similar materials in your home. 

Protect your kids from VOCs 

Identifying which products contain these hazardous compounds will go a long way in protecting your children. For instance, personal care products marketed for kids like fragranced soaps and shampoos may seem more appealing. But these products are made with cheaper, more colorful ingredients that contain harmful VOCs. When buying products for your little ones, look for the ones that are fragrance-free. 

Should I test my home for VOCs? 

Some VOCs give off a strange chemical smell. Others may not produce any smell at all. That said, you cannot rely on your sense of smell to determine the level of VOCs present in your home. If you’re concerned about the possibility of high levels of VOCs in your home please feel free to reach out to us. Certified IAQ can test over 100 VOCs and Formaldehyde, so you can rest easy knowing that your home is safe for you and your family. 

Call us at 303-995-7015 to schedule a free consultation or learn more about our VOC and Formaldehyde Testing.

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