Ways Volatile Organic Compounds Can Affect IAQ

Ways Volatile Organic Compounds Can Affect IAQVolatile organic compounds (VOC) are included in a number of common household materials and products. However, they typically don’t remain in that stable form. VOCs are slowly released as vapors that gradually affect the healthy indoor air quality of a home.

While exposure to these gases can occur indoors or outdoors, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor levels may be as much as five times greater than outdoors, due to lack of dilution by fresh air.

Common VOCs include formaldehyde, benzene and toluene. However, the category comprises many potential sources. Inside your house, VOCs may be found in cleaning products, paints, varnish, tobacco smoke, pesticides, perfume, hair spray and even ink used in printers. Additionally these compounds may be present in glues utilized in permanent building materials like plywood and flooring.

Exposure to volatile organic compounds is considered a health hazard by the EPA. Adverse symptoms may include chronic eye, nose and lung irritation, breathing problems, headaches, chronic fatigue and nausea. Long-term exposure to high VOC levels can also affect the central nervous system and is a potential cause of cancer.

To limit your exposure to household VOCs, take these steps:

  • Where possible, buy cleaners and other household products that are labeled as “low VOC.”
  • Purchase only the minimum required amounts of paints, varnishes and thinner. Don’t store surplus amounts inside the house.
  • New products are particularly high in VOC content. Where possible, air out new carpeting and glued building materials in storage prior to installation in the house.
  • Prohibit smoking inside the house.
  • Ventilate the house adequately with fresh air. Open windows when weather permits. For year-round use, consider installing balanced fresh-air ventilation such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV.)
  • Portable air purifiers that utilize activated charcoal filtration can reduce levels of VOCs in individual rooms.
  • Keep indoor humidity levels around 50%. High humidity increases release of VOC vapors from building materials.

Ask the professionals at Paitson Bros. about more ways to safeguard your home from volatile organic compounds. We’ve been your source for healthy indoor air quality since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about VOCs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Stephanie Lirette/Shutterstock”

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    By Jeff Paitson
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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

    Jeff’s belief is that the business belongs to Jesus Christ; therefore 10 percent of the company’s profits go toward the Maryland Community Church.

    Jeff is a Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce member and in his spare time, he enjoys photography.
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    Ethan Ethan Rayburn is a lifelong resident of Terre Haute and a 2005 graduate of Purdue University.

    An Eagle Scout, Ethan spent four years as a non-profit executive with the Boy Scouts of America before joining Paitson Bros. as a comfort advisor and later General Manager. In that role, Ethan has brought a renewed enthusiasm for customer care, integrity, value, and service to Paitson Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning.

    Ethan enjoys singing and was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. He also enjoys playing and coaching soccer, spending time with his family and two young boys, and volunteering his time and resources with his church, Terre Haute First Baptist Church, which he has attended from a very young age.
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