Cans of paint thinner

How Volatile Organic Compounds Impact Your Air Quality

What Are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases emitted from certain liquids or solids, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Some VOCs are known for being health hazards.

Many VOCs come from human-made products like paint, chemicals, and refrigerants. VOCs can come from:

  • Paint thinner
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Office printers
  • Building materials
  • Pesticides
  • Aerosol spray
  • Fragrance products

VOCs & Indoor Air

The EPA found that levels of common VOCs can be two to five times higher inside compared to outside. It can be even higher right after exposure to products with VOCs. Exposure to these chemicals can have harmful effects like eye, nose, or throat irritation, and headaches. More severely, VOCs have been found to cause cancer in animals and are suspected to be a cause of cancer in humans.

If you’re curious about the health impacts of specific VOCs, visit this database from the CDC.

There are two major ways to reduce the impact of VOCs on your indoor air quality:

Reduce Exposure

The best way to prevent adverse effects from VOCs is to reduce your exposure to the products that contain them. If you need to use products that contain VOCs, look for a label that says “low in VOC.”

Additionally, if you do need products with VOCs, only buy what you need. Storing these products in your home can leave you exposed to them for a long period of time.

Improve Ventilation

If you’re painting, cleaning, or using products with VOCs for other projects, make sure your home is well ventilated. Open windows and place a fan that blows the indoor air outside. Leave the windows open for some time after you’re done working in order to clear the air as much as possible. If you’ve recently bought a new carpet or building materials, let them air out outside to reduce the concentration of VOCs.

A Note About Moisture & Air Quality

Your air conditioner's job is also to condition the air, which means it should remove moisture from the air. Most of the water gets drained, but not all of it. This produces bio growth in your air conditioning system, and that's why you may get a funky smell when you first turn on your air conditioner.

Your Indoor Air Quality Resource

Plumbing & A/C Medic is a trusted resource in the Phoenix Metro area for all indoor air quality issues. Contact us today at (602) 975-2306 for more information on our air quality solutions.

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