The UltimateAir® News

What you need to know about Volatile Organic Compounds

Posted on Wed, Apr 27, 2011

vocpaintVolatile organic compounds are toxic gas emissions from solid and liquid sources that can be harmful to health that are indoor air pollutants . VOC sources include but are not limited to: paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and office equipment such as copiers, printers, glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. All of these products give off invisible gases that can be toxic.

Concentration of certain VOCs can be 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, and a lot of these VOCs come with adverse health effects. Research from the Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank found there were moderate to strong increases in respiratory and allergic health effects in children who came from homes with high concentrations of certain VOCs.

Since so many VOCs come from products we use daily indoors, it is a challenge to counteract adverse health effects. What’s more, the symptoms of VOC exposure---irritated eyes, headaches and dizziness can easily be confused with other causes. However, keeping the air inside your home or office clean and toxin-free is one of the best measures to ensure health and safety.

Though it’s true that VOCs are all around us and are safe at certain levels, you can and should take proactive steps to eliminate these compounds. Doing so begins with improving indoor air quality by eliminating these indoor air pollutants.

Clean indoor air is the key to combating VOCs.

The first step in reducing toxic levels in your home or office is to eliminate the source. Purchase products that are less toxic and use them according to the instructions. When possible, only buy enough paint for immediate use and avoid mixing different household cleaners and solvents together. 

The second step to reduce the levels of VOC in your indoor space is to clean the air with filtration.  Caution:  many appliances promise to purify household air, but few really provide the solution you need.

  • Electronic air cleaners are effective in removing airborne particles, but not gases, and many of them can produce ozone that may irritate the lungs.
  • Ion generators may remove small particles (tobacco smoke) from the indoor air.  However, they do not remove gases or odors, and they do not do a good job removing large particles, such as pollen and house dust allergens.

The third step is to provide adequate ventilation – defined as bringing fresh air into the home. If you or your children have respiratory conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic colds, getting the proper amount of fresh air is even more important.

Our Indoor Air System ventilates, bringing fresh, filtered air into your home, dramatically improving your indoor air quality.

For additional information on VOCs, visit the EPA’s website or the Minnesota Department of Health.

Topics: Indoor Air Pollutants, Indoor Air Pollution