Understanding VOCs and How They Affect IAQ

Understanding VOCs and How They Affect IAQ

Unless you make a special effort to avoid them, chances are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are degrading your indoor air quality (IAQ). These compounds come from products made from hydrocarbons and as they age, they emit hazardous gases.

If you use ordinary household cleaners, air sprays, perfumed products, or other home remodeling products — flooring, cabinetry, furniture, paint, glues, caulk, or adhesives — you could be exposing yourself to high levels of VOCs. Homes with attached garages where fertilizers, pesticides, vehicles and lawn equipment are stored often have high levels of these compounds inside the living areas.

Volatile organic compounds are known health hazards that reduce IAQ. They might cause headaches, respiratory irritations, flu-like symptoms, or skin problems. The compounds are known to cause cancer, nervous system damage and organ failure.

Managing the VOC Level

The two easiest ways to keep the VOCs low inside confined spaces is to avoid products with these compounds altogether, or rely on ample fresh air when using them. Fortunately, manufacturers make alternative products that contain no or low levels of these chemicals.

Look for products that carry a clean air label or a statement that it contains no harmful chemicals. Beware of the “natural” label, which means little when it comes to product descriptions.

When options aren’t available, avoidance won’t work and weather doesn’t permit fresh air ventilation, consider these suggestions to reduce the VOC concentration:

  • UV (ultraviolet) lights installed in the ductwork and air handler for your HVAC system will neutralize the damaging effects of volatile organic compounds.
  • Certain houseplants absorb volatile organic compounds through their leaves roots and soil.
  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) provide year-round fresh air ventilation without driving up energy bills. These balanced ventilation devices use heat exchange technology to condition the incoming fresh air while they pull out stale indoor air.

If you suspect that your home has high levels of VOCs, contact Aggressive Mechanical Contractors for professional advice. We provide trusted HVAC and IAQ services for Monmouth County area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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