Have You Heard of Volatile Organic Compounds?

You may have heard of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, but are not sure exactly what they are and how they can affect you. Almost every residential and commercial building in today’s world has some VOCs in the air.

DefinitionHave You Heard of Volatile Organic Compounds?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), volatile organic compounds are carbon-based gasses that are emitted from a number of liquids and solids, and they contain various hazardous chemicals. These chemicals may have an adverse effect on the health of people who come into contact with them.

Where Do VOCs Come From?

There is a long list of products that emit VOCs, including:

  • Paint
  • Lacquer
  • Paint strippers
  • Pesticides
  • Furniture
  • Cleaning products
  • Printers and copiers
  • Adhesives and glues
  • Permanent markers
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Dry-cleaned clothing

Effects on the Human Body

VOCs can trigger nose, eye and throat irritation, as well as nausea, skin allergies and headaches. Prolonged exposure may even cause damage to the kidneys, liver and central nervous system, and could result in cancer.

Research, says the EPA, shows that the levels of some VOCs are 200 to 500 percent higher indoors that outdoors, which is why you have to be so careful when undertaking tasks with products that emit these chemicals.

Reduce Exposure

You can reduce your exposure to VOCs by:

  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions on domestic cleaners, solvents and other chemical-based products – they are there for a purpose, and that is to protect you.
  • Safely getting rid of unneeded half-full containers. This particularly applies to products such as paint as it’s almost impossible to seal the cans as well as they originally were sealed.
  • Keeping minimal exposure to goods that contain VOCs, and when you do use them, make sure it’s in a well-ventilated area.

Certain indoor plants remove VOCs from the air, and air filters are effective for removing other types of pollutants such as some mold spores and pollen. Regular servicing of HVAC equipment is important to keep its air filtration component operating effectively.

Please contact us at Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing for expert advice about VOCs and other HVAC-related topics. We’ve been serving the Greater Cleveland area since 1935.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about volatile organic compounds and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

For those Do it Yourselfers who would rather take control of your own indoor comfort, you can shop our online store for replacement parts, products and accessories!  

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