You want to have healthy air throughout your home. However, some everyday household products can affect the quality of your indoor air. These chemicals are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they can cause health problems for certain people. Here are a few things that you will want to know about these chemicals so that you can reduce their effects.
What Are Volatile Organic Compounds?
Gases emitted from certain liquids or solids are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs can come from various chemicals, and many of them have long-term health effects. VOCs have a higher concentration level in an indoor environment. While you may want to avoid VOCs in your home, these chemicals can be found in a wide array of products.
These organic chemicals are used as ingredients in many household items. You can find them in varnishes, paints and waxes. VOCs are also commonly found in cleaning, degreasing, cosmetic and hobby products. All these household items will release organic compounds in the air. In some cases, VOCs can leak from the product when it is stored away.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the levels of these organic pollutants are two to five times higher in your home than the outside. Their researchers also found that the regular use of the products will expose you and others to high pollutant levels. Those levels can remain in the air long after you have finished using the item.
Common Sources of VOCs
Some of the most common household items include paints, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants. You can even find high levels of VOCs in air fresheners and moth repellents. Hobby supplies are another top source of volatile organic compounds. Your dry-cleaned clothing can also contain some VOCs that are emitted into the air.
Your office might be the source of additional VOCs. Some building materials and furnishings can contain these harmful chemicals. Office equipment, such as printers, copiers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, might have a higher level of VOCs. Permanent markers, glues and adhesives are other sources of these toxic chemicals.
The Health Effects of VOCs
When there are high levels of VOCs in your home or business, it can lead to serious health issues. Some of the most common complaints are throat, eye and nose irritation. In some cases, there can be headaches, nausea and loss of coordination. Long-term exposure can include damage to the kidneys, liver and central nervous system. These harmful organic chemicals are also known to cause cancer. However, the extent of these health effects will depend on several factors, including the length and level of exposure. Headaches, dizziness and memory impairment are some immediate symptoms of exposure to these harmful chemicals.
Reduce Your Exposure to VOCs
As you can tell, VOCs are harmful to your health, and they can affect the air quality in your home. However, there are ways to reduce your exposure. Within your home or office, you should consider increasing the ventilation in areas where you use products with high VOC emissions. You also want to use the product according to the label’s precautions, and you should never store unused paints within your living spaces.
All these products will have warnings to alert you to potentially hazardous chemicals. If you want to use those products, you should go outside to avoid affecting your home’s air quality.
Many people leave full containers of old chemicals around their homes. These gases can leak from closed containers. By throwing away these products, you can reduce the levels of organic compounds in the air. However, you do not want to throw these items in the garbage can. In some communities, there are special days where the town will collect toxic household waste. You can dispose of those chemicals without the risk of polluting the environment.
If you are worried about having to dispose of these chemicals, you can also avoid that hassle by purchasing limited quantities. Paints, adhesives and other chemicals should only be purchased for your project. For those who have gas lawn mowers, you should only buy enough gasoline to fill up the tank. You should never keep these products around your home for those occasional tasks.
Adhesive removers, aerosol spray paints and paint strippers are some of the most toxic products. They contain a chemical known as methylene chloride, and it is known to cause cancer in animals. In addition, this chemical can convert into carbon monoxide (CO) in the body and cause symptoms similar to CO exposure. When you use these products, you want to read the labels to avoid any health hazards and learn their proper use. If you have to use methylene chloride in your home, you need to apply it in a well-ventilated area. For the best results, these products need to be used in the outdoors if possible.
Benzene is another toxic chemical in the VOC category. This chemical is known as a human carcinogen. There are many sources of this chemical, including paint supplies, tobacco smoke and automobile emissions. If you are looking to keep your air healthy, reduce your exposure to benzene to a minimum. You will want to provide maximum ventilation and discard all those used supplies.
Finally, perchloroethylene is found in dry cleaning materials, and it is another chemical that you will want to avoid. In a few studies, this chemical is known to cause cancer in animals. Many people breathe in low levels of the compound in areas where their dry-cleaned goods are stored or by wearing these items of clothing. Many people store these items in a bedroom closet. When that happens, you could be breathing in these harmful chemicals throughout the night. For the most part, the perchloroethylene chemical is removed during the finishing and pressing processes. However, some dry cleaners might leave high levels of perchloroethylene on your clothing. If your dry-cleaned items have a strong chemical odor, they contain a high level of perchloroethylene. You might want to ask your cleaner to re-clean them or find another provider to clean your items.
You want to avoid all these harmful chemicals in your air. If you are concerned about indoor air quality, you should have an indoor air quality audit. At JW Plumbing, Heating & Air, we can keep your air healthy and safe in Los Angeles.
Serving the Greater Los Angeles Area
At JW Plumbing, Heating and Air, we serve the Los Angeles area with professionalism and integrity for all those heating, cooling and plumbing jobs. We are a family-owned company that is dedicated to maintaining your home’s comfort levels. Our team has over 30 years of experience, and we are certified to work on all major brands of plumbing and HVAC systems. We can even conduct these indoor air quality tests to keep your family safe. If you need help with your home comfort system in Los Angeles, CA, make sure to call JW Plumbing, Heating and Air.