Volatile organic compounds: what they are and how to avoid them

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Volatile organic compounds: what they are and how to avoid them

VOCs are organic chemicals with a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. They are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals. The worst part is that VOCs are emitted from a lot of products we have in our offices and households.

The compounds include many chemicals which differ in whether their effect on our health is short- or long-term. Their concentrations are up to ten times higher indoors than they are outdoors. The first place we should look for them is in our cleaning products. For example, they are present in aerosol sprays, moth repellents, air fresheners, dry-cleaned clothing and even office supplies such as copies and printers.

Some of the health issues caused by VOCs include eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, headaches and, most importantly – damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Some chemicals are known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected to cause it in humans as well.

Obviously, we can’t limit our time in the office or the time we spend cleaning our homes, but we can use other measures to try and prevent the health hazards associated with VOCs. For instance, one of the best protection measures is to limit our exposure to products that contain VOCs when possible. A great way to do that is to use cleaning supplies that are green and consist of natural ingredients. Check out our list right here!

If you ever think that you have health problems associated with VOCs, you should immediately go to a doctor and decrease the VOC levels in your household or office. If you own a company and have employees, remember that they’re also affected by the same things you are!

Another way to control VOCs is through ventilation and climate control – you can use that to reduce unnecessary exposure to VOCs both in the place you work and the place you live. Additionally, make sure you keep both the temperature and relative humidity there as low as possible or comfortable.

VOCs are not only dangerous to our health, but also to the environment – they’ve been found to be a major contributing factor to the production of ozone, which is a common air pollutant and a proven public health hazard.

Being aware of the VOC levels in our places of work and our households is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping our environment safe.


Posted: Tuesday 19 April 2016