What Are VOCs and Why Should You Be Concerned About Them?

What Are VOCs and Why Should You Be Concerned About Them?

When AirMD’s consultants conduct residential indoor air quality testing, one of the things we are always testing for is VOCs – volatile organic compounds.

Many homeowners are surprised to learn how prevalent VOCs are. Others are surprised to learn about the risk these compounds present.

What are volatile organic compounds?

As the American Lung Association explains, “Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes. Some are harmful by themselves, including some that cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form other air pollutants after they are in the air.”

What threats do VOCs present to you and your family?

With “organic” as their middle name, volatile organic compounds may not sound very dangerous. We are accustomed to think of anything that is organic as being good for us. But that is definitely not the case when it comes to VOCs.

“Breathing VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, can cause difficulty breathing and nausea, and can damage the central nervous system as well as other organs,” the American Lung Association reports. “Some VOCs can cause cancer.”

How do VOCs get into your home?

Volatile organic compounds may be produced by the materials used to build and furnish your house. Common sources include:

  • Paints, stains and varnishes
  • Caulk
  • Adhesives
  • Flooring
  • Carpeting
  • Products made from pressed wood
  • Furniture

VOCs can also be found in a variety of cleaning and maintenance products you have around the house, ranging from household cleaning products to air fresheners, cosmetics and deodorants.

Other sources of volatile organic compounds may include:

  • Your dry cleaning
  • Home office printers
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Glue, permanent markers and other crafting supplies
  • Fuel oil and gasoline
  • Wood burning stoves and fireplaces

If you have questions or concerns regarding the presence of potentially hazardous volatile organic compounds in your home or business or would like more information about VOC testing, please contact the environmental testing scientists at AirMD. Or to schedule an appointment call 1-888-462-4763 or 1-888-GO-AIRMD.

By AirMD | Posted in Volatile Organic Compounds