VOCs: What They Are and Tips for Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality can be linked to health problems ranging from respiratory illnesses to frequent sore throats. People who are more susceptible to respiratory problems may even develop allergies or experience asthma attacks when living in a home with poor indoor air quality. Understanding the source of indoor pollutants and the steps you should take to eliminate them is the best way to protect your family from the negative effects of VOCs.

What Are VOCs?

The National Institutes of Health explains that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are pollutants that are easily able to become airborne. While VOCs have natural sources in outdoor environments, there are man-made pollutants that may easily become airborne. Common indoor sources of VOCs include cigarette smoke, household cleaners, air fresheners, and office supplies. Additionally, outdoor sources of VOCs including car exhaust and industrial pollutants may inadvertently end up indoors.

Health Effects of VOCs on Indoor Air Quality

When such pollutants come from indoor sources or drift into buildings through open windows, the vapor or gas may enter the respiratory system. If you or your family members notice an increase in illness, the source could be your own home.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that many of the symptoms of poor indoor air quality relate to the respiratory system. Irritation and soreness in the ears, nose, and throat; frequent headaches; nausea and frequent rashes are all signs that the air in your home needs to be purified.

If VOCs are left to circulate throughout your home, long-term health effects could be more serious. Chronic fatigue, vertigo and organ damage are all complications of ongoing exposure to VOCs.

Eliminating VOCs

Fortunately, eliminating VOCs in your home to protect the health of your family is an achievable goal. If you are not sure where to start, take small steps to improve indoor air quality. Plants offer the perfect solution for keeping the air clean without requiring a large investment. The right plant for eliminating VOCs in your home depends on the type of pollutants you are trying to keep at bay. Peace lilies are particularly effective in getting rid of formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. Spider plants are able to remove some of the benzene sourced from cigarette smoke from the air. If you prefer flowers, chrysanthemums are known to be effective in eliminating five different types of VOCs from the air.

The next step is to add ventilation throughout your home to allow VOCs to circulate out of the building. While opening a window is an easy option for improving ventilation, this method may let outdoor pollution into your home. When opening windows to eliminate VOCs, be sure to utilize a fan to circulate the air out of your home. To take your ventilation efforts to the next level, be sure to use the exhaust fans found in your kitchen or bathroom regularly.

If you are ready to take a bigger step to eliminate VOCs in your home, adding a whole-home air purifier or dehumidifier may be the best solution. Whole-home air purifiers are installed into your heating and cooling system to clean the air as it is circulated throughout your home. While these systems do require an investment, they offer the most effective option for improving indoor air quality.

Dehumidifiers are ideal for removing excess moisture from the air to improve comfort and reduce the possibility of bacterial growth in your home. If you notice that your home smells musty, a dehumidifier helps to improve the air quality by making it difficult for pollutants that cause musty odors to thrive in the environment.

To learn more about improving the indoor air quality of your home, check out Climatic Conditioning’s air quality solutions or call 941-444-5399.


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