There is no place where people feel safer than in their own homes. We spend almost 90% of our time indoors: in our home, but also in the office, at school, or in our car. However, this air is much less pure than one might imagine, it contains, in particular, a category of substances called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some of which are harmful.
When there are imminent dangers we are always advised to stay home to avoid the risks. However, not even our house is a place where we are 100% safe, so today we will talk about one of the risk factors that can be in our house and how to remove VOCs from home.
What Are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are compounds that evaporate easily under normal conditions of temperature and pressure and their volatility gives them the ability to spread in the environment and modify their chemical composition, in order to develop impacts direct or indirect in the environment.
In fact, they are, in particular, precursors of ozone in the air and the origin of the greenhouse effect. As such, they are considered the main direct pollutants.
Where Do VOCs Come From?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are substances derived from the petrochemical industry and materials can emit them constantly for years. They can come both from the outside of your house, as well as the different sources of combustion: gasoline, gas, fuel…
But most VOCs come from inside your home:
- Open chimney systems (gas, wood combustion…)
- Gas cookers
- Tobacco smoke
- Building and decoration materials
- Household cleaning products
- Air fresheners
- Personal hygiene products
- Office supplies
- Plywood or chipboard panels
The construction and decoration materials are alive. The substances that are used for the adhesives volatilize into the environment, you breathe them and end up passing into your body and impairing your health.
The clearest case, and in which there is more awareness, is that of cleaning products. At home, the usual thing is to do very good microbiological hygiene, but at the same time, we are filling it with chemical substances.
You may think… “Nothing happens because they are small doses.” But if you use these products every time, even if only twice a week, your body will be continuously exposed.
This, in the medium term, will end up causing a skin, respiratory or allergic affectation. Your body will have said “enough” and will react strongly to even smaller doses than usual.
If you add synthetic chemical air fresheners and personal hygiene products to cleaning products… Your direct exposure to volatile organic compounds is daily and constant.
What Are the Consequences of Volatile Organic Compounds on Health?
Depending on the substances, their concentration, and the nature of the exposure, the effects on human health may be more or less important: inhalation may cause olfactory discomfort, irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, headaches, nausea, fatigue, neurological disorders, respiratory tract disorders due to their irritating aspect, etc.
Certain volatile organic compounds such as benzene or formaldehyde, if present in high concentrations in the air, can have carcinogenic effects on humans, cause gene mutations, or even be toxic to reproduction.
How Do I Get Rid of VOCs in My House?
The presence of volatile organic compounds in a home is not easy to spot unless measurements are taken by a professional. They can sometimes give off a new smell, which generally fades over time… but can also be odorless.
To help you fight against these fine particles impacting indoor air quality, here are some guidelines to help you.
To improve air quality at the source, we clean up! We throw away items that we no longer use or that have suffered water damage, in the basement or in the garage, we steam clean the carpet, we regularly wash sheets, duvets, pillows, curtains, and other fabrics that accumulate mites.
For the floor, we prefer the vacuum cleaner to the broom, the filter of which is changed regularly.
Install an Air Purifier
An air purifier with specific filters effectively removes harmful gases and unwanted odors from your indoor environment. A HEPA with a carbon filter activated is designed to remove gases and odors.
Best air purifier for VOCs and formaldehyde with HEPA filter has the ability to blocks these particles like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by cigarette smoke, household products, exhaust gases, or construction materials (such as benzene or formaldehyde).
Your Daily Habits
Your habits can have a big impact on the level of volatile organic compounds in indoor air. Here are some examples that can cause these sources of pollution:
- Cooking food can cause the emission of VOCs, and this pollution is enhanced when the food has a high-fat content and when cooking in oil at high temperatures.
- Cleaning products used for cleaning contain chemicals and can emit pollutants. For example, the lemon smell, present in many cleaning products, is due to limousine which reacts with ozone to form “secondary VOCs” in the form of fine particles.
- The use of candles or incense releases pollutants into the air.
- Carrying out work, and in particular, painting, varnishing, or gluing down flooring can release VOCs.
- The lack of daily ventilation in your home has an impact on the quality of indoor air, etc.
Choose Less Irritating Products
Detergents, deodorants, strippers, and other household products contain harmful substances. It is, therefore, better to favor ecological brands natural and biodegradable and store toxic products in airtight containers.
Another option, make your own mixtures: lemon juice and vegetable oil to polish the furniture, baking soda, and water to clean the tub or the top of the stove, etc.
Have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Do you have a fireplace or a gas stove? The carbon monoxide alarm is recommended because you don’t feel any symptoms of intoxication before you pass out.
You can get it in hardware stores and supermarkets. They are installed on each floor (including in the basement), especially near the bedrooms and the door giving access to the garage.
Decrease the Presence of Plastic
Certain types of plastic (those with the triangular symbol 3, 6, and 7 in particular) are considered harmful to health, but they are still ubiquitous in our familiar objects.
To reduce their presence in the home, we can, for example, swap plastic bags for fabric bags, avoid plastic packaging, and choose containers and kitchen tools in stainless steel or glass rather than plastic.
Remove Rugs and Carpet
Hair, dust mites, toxic substances, microbes… In addition to being difficult to maintain, rugs and carpets are real reservoirs of pollutants and it is recommended to get rid of them. The amount of dust is eight times greater in the presence of a carpet.
Do we absolutely want some? We choose the brands identified with a Green Label Plus, with lower chemical emissions.
Maintain Heating and Ventilation Equipment
Poor maintenance or inadequate use of combustible energy devices (wood, gas, oil) can cause carbon monoxide emissions. In addition to checking their good condition annually, we change the furnace filters seasonally.
We must also take care of the air exchanger, the filters of which must be replaced every three months. We also think of cleaning the electric baseboards.
Reducing the effects of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) indoors and outdoors should be our main goal. It is very important for us to improve indoor air quality to live healthily.
I also explained your question that how to remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from home in detail above.
If you want more information about VOCs, you can ask from us in the comment section below.