VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are things that create gas when mixed with the nitrogen found in the air we breathe. While it may sound like VOCs are something you’d only see in an industrial warehouse, many products found in your Gretna, Louisiana, home contain these compounds, which affect the quality of the air around you. Let’s take a look at what some of the most common VOCs are, what their presence means, and how to deal with them.

Common VOCs

There are dozens of compounds that are classified as VOCs. Many of these can be found in everyday household items. If you’re concerned about VOCs in your living space, do a quick check of your inventory to see which VOCs you can remove from your home altogether. Here is a list of some of the most frequently found VOC producers.

Acetone is one producer of VOCs that’s found in most homes. You’ll find it in products such as nail polish remover, wallpaper, and furniture polish. Benzene and butanol can come from burning candles, running your lawnmower, house paint, and even glue. Dichlorobenzene can be released by some cleaners and room deodorizers. Laundry soap may contain terpenes, which are also responsible for higher VOCs in your personal airspace. Carbon disulfide can be found in chlorinated tap water, which is something towns will add to varying levels depending on necessity.

Odds are, you’ve seen a few things on the short punch list above that are in or around your home. There are also dozens of other sources which all play a part in the total number of VOCs in your air.

Long-Term and Short-Term Effects of VOCs

After reading more about VOCs, you may be wondering what harm they can do. This, of course, relies on several factors. Volatile organic compounds found in large, outdoor areas cause very little concern to our direct health. You’re more prone to see side effects of exposure when you’re indoors or in areas with poor circulation. Another factor in this is how long the concentrated exposure to VOCs takes place.

Inhaling fumes from VOCs are the primary means of exposure, however, direct skin contact can also cause similar side effects. Those with recent, short-term exposure to higher VOC levels may experience headaches, dizziness, and eye or skin irritation. Have you ever noticed these types of symptoms when working around paint, acetone, glue, or gasoline engines? This could be your body reacting to VOCs. Not all headaches should be a direct cause for alarm; your heating system may even cause them.

The harm from most short-term VOC exposure is limited to the irritating symptoms themselves. Longer exposure over extended periods of time can lead to other issues such as fatigue, nausea, damage to the nervous system and some organs, and even cancer. Because of this, it’s important that you don’t completely ignore sources of VOCs around your home.

How to Reduce VOCs in Your Home

Once you’ve made the conscious decision to reduce the VOCs in your home, doing so will be uncomplicated. You can take some measures to reduce VOCs by changing the types of products you buy. For example, using acetone-free nail polish remover is an easy first step. This method will go along way in reducing VOCs in your home, but there’s only so far you can go with product replacements alone. Working with VOCs in highly ventilated or outdoor areas will have lasting, positive effects.

Regular Ductwork Service Reduces VOCs

Improving the overall air quality system in your home will also reduce the VOCs. Have your ductwork serviced regularly and more so if you smoke or frequently use other VOC producing products. Store open paint, and other VOC producing materials, outside of the home and away from common living areas.

Volatile organic compounds can cause a headache, literally, but removing them or keeping them at safe, manageable levels is an easy task. If you’re determined to reduce the VOC levels in your home, be sure to follow the directions and warnings on product labels and have your HVAC system serviced regularly. You can also reach us at Bryans United Air Conditioning at 504-208-2071 to schedule service and discuss your individual air quality needs.

Image provided by iStock

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