AllergyConsumerReview

Could VOCs Be Hiding In Your Home?

If you’ve ever painted a wall, installed new carpet, or purchased new furniture, then you have most likely – and perhaps unknowingly – introduced VOCs into your indoor environment. What exactly is a VOC? It stands for volatile organic compound, and the EPA defines it as gases emitted from certain solids or liquids, such as paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, furnishings, adhesives, permanent markers and more.[1]

VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.[2] Today’s homes are built more efficiently than ever – designed to maximize the effectiveness of heating and cooling systems – and VOCs are less likely to slip out through a poorly-insulated attic or drafty window. This means they stay trapped longer in your home, thus increasing your exposure.

Bob Vila – the defacto king of home repair – knows a thing or two about VOCs and how insidious they can be for homeowners. On his eponymous website, he notes that, “As these chemicals [VOCs] break down, they release gas into the air that can cause headaches, sore throats, and more. Minimize the effects of off-gassing by ventilating a newly furnished room for at least a week after installation and always buying no- or low-VOC products when possible.”[3]

If you or someone in your family is already prone to skin sensitivities, allergies or asthma, or are currently in poor or compromised health, VOCs can make exacerbate their symptoms.

Other symptoms associated with VOC exposure are:

So if you’re concerned about VOC levels in your home and want to minimize your exposure as much as possible, what are some steps you can take?

 

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html
[2] Ibid
[3] http://www.bobvila.com/vocs/48583-8-dangerous-secrets-your-home-may-be-hiding/slideshows?s=5#.VPjj38bfwgw
[4] http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html#Health_Effects
[5] http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html#Health_Effects