In our last blog, we pointed out that volatile organic compounds (also known as “VOCs”) are one of the biggest inhibitors of having high indoor air quality. VOCs, as you may now know, are found in a wide variety of products that very often make their way into our homes. They are contained in such building materials as carpets, adhesives, paints, sealing caulks, solvents, varnishes, upholstery fabrics and vinyl floors.
But that’s not all, unfortunately. As we pointed out before, many of our homes’ cleaning products are also known to contain VOCs. Air fresheners, disinfectants, cosmetics and even moth balls can be riddled with VOCs. Considering that so many of our most commonly-used household items seem to contain volatile organic compounds, you may be wondering what the effects on our health may be when we are exposed to them.
As the Minnesota Department of Health points out, it all depends on how many VOCs are in the air and our levels of exposure. Their website reveals that “scientists look at short-term (acute) exposures as hours to days or long-term (chronic) exposures as years to even lifetime. Breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems.”
What are the short-term (acute) health effects of high levels of VOCs? MDH lists them as eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and the worsening of asthma symptoms. Sadly, asthmatics have the worst time dealing with VOCs. “Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse in people who have asthma or are particularly sensitive to chemicals,” says MDH.
What are the long-term (chronic) health effects of high levels of VOCs? MDH lists them as cancer, liver damage, kidney damage and central nervous system damage. Clearly, these are all very serious health issues that can ultimately lead to death. In our last blog, we noted that it’s important to choose products that have low VOCs or none at all. However, the storage of certain chemicals is another important part of the process of staying healthy.
How should products that contain VOCs be stored? Fraser Health lists some tips, in an effort to minimize the exposure you have to volatile organic compounds. “Follow manufacturer’s instructions on proper usage of chemicals,” they strongly recommend, “Store chemicals away from living areas and use them in a well-ventilated area. If possible, allow new furniture to off gas for a few weeks before moving into the home; otherwise increase home ventilation.”
Can VOCs be eliminated completely? HGTV.com reminds us that eliminating VOCs completely from our lives isn’t entirely possible. “Volatile organic compounds are gases released as materials age and degrade over time,” reveals the site, “There are hundreds of VOCs — from formaldehyde and ethanol to vinyl, adhesives and varnishes. Even felt-tip pens are a source.” Therefore, minimizing exposure is the key to promoting good health.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are strong proponents of maximizing your potential for optimum health. And we know that the quality of the air in your home will have a lot to do with that. As you may know, we offer Air Quality Services to help you enjoy the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.