Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are emitted gases by some special solids and liquids. These emissions can be either from natural or industrial activities in our daily activities. Most of the chemicals emitted to the atmosphere find their ways indoor; thereby have significant effects on our health. Studies have shown that concentration of VOCs is ten times higher inside the house compared to outdoor. This may be due to the inability of the gases to disperse easily indoor compared to outdoor.
However, these harmful gases get trapped in the home and the occupants may not clearly see the presence of the gases as they have been mixed-up with the air. Only through VOC monitoring or testing can one detect their existence.
VOC monitoring can be described as the process of testing or analyzing volatile Organic Compounds in the environment. The presence of VOCs is revealed from the VOC sampling and analysis. The health effects of VOCs cannot be overemphasized, as VOCs are harmful to overall human and animal health and causing environmental problems. Some of the effects of VOCs exposure are headaches, throat irritation and can as well cause internal organs damage, and much more. These health effects can either be short-term or long-term based on the levels of exposure, type of organic compound exposed to, and exposure time.
In our quest to ensure our customers and visitors are living in the healthy environment, Simon Air Quality aims to use this post to highlight some usefulness of VOC monitoring to enhance your home air quality. What do you need to know about VOC and their analysis? Read on to discover more.
What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be defined as a range of volatile carbon-based chemicals, naturally occurred and found in human-made products of liquids and solids. They are compounds with high and low vapor pressure and water solubility respectively.
VOCs are found as ingredients in many household products such as wax, cosmetics, paints, disinfectants, refrigerants, pharmaceuticals, and many other cleaning products. Most of the industrial solvents like trichloroethylene, as well as other organic chemical processes such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), hydraulic fluids, petroleum fuels, water treatment products, and much more emit VOCs.
Volatile organic compounds can be as well referred to as typical groundwater contaminants found in both liquids and solids. Due to the necessities of many of household products, VOCs are inevitable in homes and workplaces. Hence, the need for VOC testing and monitoring to ensure that quality air is breathed-in in the home.
It is developed to measure and monitor the presence of volatile organic compounds in the enclosed places like home. This is necessary because VOCs have been studied to pose significant health problems to occupants as a result of their toxicity. Their presence (even in high concentration) may not be easily detected because they are colorless and odorless. They can only be tested and measured through a professional Emissions/VOC testing.
Major Sources of VOCs
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are produced from almost all the products aimed to solve other problems in human lives. In the process of solving one problem, other hazards are being constituted and sometimes surpassed the ones the products are solving. This makes Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) always stay with us in our daily lives. Some of the household products that emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are not limited to the list below:
– Cleaning products
– Copiers and printers
– Wood preservatives
– Disinfectant products
– Dry-cleaned clothing
– Office use items such as permanent makers, corrective fluids, inks, adhesives, glues, and much more
– Hobby supplies
– Building and furnishing materials
– Automotive products
– Stored fuels
– Paints and other related solvents
– Products such as pesticides, fertilizers, aerosol sprays, etc.
Considering the above-listed sources of VOCs, which one can you do without on a daily basis? Is it possible for you and your family to live without any of them? Unfortunately, no one; hence, it implies that we are all living with VOCs in our homes. Just know that you may not directly inhale VOCs, but it gets into your system through the contaminated air we breathe in every day.
The only way out to checkmate the concentration of these gases, not to affect the quality air in the home is by Emissions/VOC testing in your home? To answer this question, let’s look at health effects of VOCs in the home.
Health Effects of VOC
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have adverse effects on our well-being, and while some are short-term, some are long-term effects and can even regenerate to more severe health issues. However, the health effects of VOCs vary from highly toxic exposure to those unknown impacts. The seriousness of the various health effects is based on the level and duration of exposure.
Short-term and immediate health symptoms may be:
– Memory impairment
– Eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation
– Visual disorders
Some of the detrimental health effects of VOCs are:
– Injury to kidney, liver, and central nervous system
– Severe nausea and headaches
– Cancer in animals and humans
The following signs and symptoms can also serve as an alert for VOCs presence in your home:
– Conjunctival irritation
– Fatigue and dizziness
– Gradual serum cholinesterase levels declination
– Allergic skin reaction
– Uneasiness in nose and throat
Measuring and Prevention of VOCs Exposure
If you notice any traces of health effects of VOCs as contained above, the best way to protect your health and that of your family is by limiting the levels of your exposure to VOCs’ materials and products in your home. However, if the symptoms persist, don’t hesitate to consult with your health practitioner.
It is worthy of mentioning that, some people like those with respiratory problems such as young children, asthmatic patients, the elderly, and those that are sensitive to chemicals are at higher risk of illness and irritation from Volatile Organic Compounds. The question now is “how can you and prevent VOCs levels in your home”?
How can you Prevent VOCs Levels in Your Home?
The first approach to a successful reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in your home is to carry out a professional VOC testing of your home. In the process, you would also examine possible sources of VOCs in your home. The steps to minimize your exposure to VOCs are divided into two, and they are as highlighted below:
Step 1: Source control: This step involves removal and reduction of the number of household items that emit VOCs in your home.
-When it comes to procurement of chemicals such as adhesives, solvents, paints, caulks, and much more, only purchase the quantity currently needed to prevent storage of unused ones which can over time leak from the can and give off VOCs.
– In the case of unused chemicals, store in a shed or garage where no one usually stays, or if possible, dispose of through your city waste collection sites.
– Always buy low-VOC options for furnishing and paints.
– Consider purchasing new items such as floor designs that have been left to off-gas in the warehouse. Another example is solid wood rather than composite wood.
– Always exceed manufacturers’ stated precautions in the manual.
– Avoid mixing household products except instructed on the label.
– Always keep the household products out of reach of children and pets.
Step 2: Ventilation control: Adequate ventilation control enhances the quality of fresh air in your home, and this tends to reduce and control the concentration of VOCs inside your house.
– Allow adequate air into your home by opening windows and doors in the home. You can as well use fans to boost air from the outdoors.
– Perform home renovations at the appropriate season when the building is not occupied so you can increase ventilation by opening doors and windows.
– Always keep relative humidity and temperature as low as possible as chemical products emit gases in high humidity and temperature.
– Install new technological air quality devices to improve the quality of air in the home. You can get some here.
Should I Test my Home for VOCs?
Testing your home for VOCs is the right way of knowing the status of your home with a view to reduce and eliminate VOCs from your home. It is a way of safeguarding your entire household from inhaling poor air that results in health issues associated with VOCs.
Another benefit of sampling and analyzing your home is that there is no state or federal standards for the levels of VOC in the non-industrial settings; hence, it is essential to protect your home from these harmful gasesto save the cost of hospital bills for you and your family.
However, if you are concerned about keeping your home safe and you are keen on testing your home for the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds levels in your home, don’t hesitate to call Simon Air Quality professional for sampling & analysis of your home.