Breathe In The Air: Understanding The Most Common Household VOCs
According to the EPA, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases emitted from certain solids or liquids. The concentrations of these chemicals are consistently higher -- up to 10 times higher -- indoors than outdoors primarily due to their presence in common household products. Since some cause adverse health effects, the best way to ensure your family is protected is to do your best to remove their sources from your home.
Benzene is considered a human carcinogen, meaning it has been linked to cancer. It can be found in paint, glue, carpeting, and emissions from gasoline combustions. The EPA recommends that you ventilate areas that are being painted. However, the best solution is to avoid paints with this compound altogether. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of VOC-free paints you can choose from.
This chemical is produced through smoke: emissions from barbecues, burning candles, camping stoves, and cigarettes can contribute to its presence in the home.
Ethanol is a common solvent used in many cleaners due to its effectiveness. Be sure to open windows and allow for proper air circulation when using detergents and cleaners with ethanol.
Formaldehyde can be found in floor lacquers and a number of plastics; rather than opting for the easy option, choose BPA-free plastics and natural plant-chemistry-based floor finishes like VOC-free concrete stain.
This chemical is also found in conventional paint, so always choose VOC-free paint products to ensure you’re not breathing in the harmful compound.
Xylene is produced by traffic emissions, which makes idling cars particularly dangerous. Never leave your car running in your garage, even for a brief amount of time.
Exposure to VOCs cause symptoms such as headaches, nose and throat irritation, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and memory problems. By eliminating old containers and buying alternative options (such as water-based furniture polish), you can reduce the harm that may be caused by these organic compounds.