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How to Combat Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Your House?

In this post, we’ll take a good look at Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and talk about ways to remove them. Use the table of contents in the top corner of this post to navigate and find the answers you are looking for.

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Introduction to VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released to the air as gasses from particular liquids or solids. VOCs come in many different chemical substances, a few of which might come with a short- and/or long-lasting negative health effect. Most of the times there are more VOCs inside the house (as much as 10 times greater) as in the open air. VOCs are produced by lots of different products and solutions.

Organic chemical substances are commonly used as the component in household items. Varnished, paints and wax all include organic solvents, as do lots of disinfecting, cleaning, cosmetic, de-greasing and hobby items. Fuels consist of organic chemical substances too. Each one of these products is able to discharge organic substances while you’re making use of them, and, to some extent, when they’re placed in a storage room.

EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s “Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study” discovered amounts of approximately a dozen typical organic airborne pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher indoors compared to outdoors, no matter where the houses were situated, in cities or rural areas.

TEAM studies mentioned that although people are making use of products filled with organic chemical substances, they’re able to open themselves as well as others to high levels of pollutants, and increased levels can be present in the air long after the VOC-releasing activities are done.

Volatile Organic Compound Sources

Household items, such as:

  • Paints, Stripper Sand, and other solvents
  • Wood additives
  • Aerosols
  • Disinfectants and cleansers
  • Air fresheners and moth repellents
  • Stored fuels and vehicle items
  • Hobby materials
  • Dry-cleaned clothing
  • Pesticide

Other items, such as:

  • Building materials and pieces of furniture
  • Office products, including printers and copy machines, correction liquids, and carbon-less copy paper
  • Visuals and craft materials such as glues and adhesive material, permanent markers and photographic products.

Volatile Organic Compound Definition

Any kind of chemical substance dependent on carbon rings or chains using a vapor pressure higher than 2 millimeters of mercury (0.27 kPa) at 250 C, leaving out methane.
Note: These substances might include oxygen, nitrogen and other components, however, particularly left out are carbon monoxide, carbonic acid, carbon dioxide, carbonate salts and metallic carbides.

Research by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) and other scientists discovered that VOCs are typically found in households and that their amounts might be twice to even a thousand times higher than outside. There might be everywhere from fifty to hundreds of individual Volatile Organic Compounds at home at one time.

A few might generate smells at lower amounts, however, lots have no obvious smell. Numerous VOCs are particles and are able to result in headaches, throat, nose and eye discomfort. Long exposure with particular Volatile Organic Compounds might lead to cancer or chronic diseases. At extreme levels, VOCs are really harmful to your body.

Did you Know

That higher levels of carbon dioxide in schools have been linked to higher rates of student absences.

Reducing VOCs at Home

Air filtration at home is an important factor towards eliminating VOCs. A filtering method making use of new innovation produing catalytic molecules, killing VOCs and particles. Airflow is crucial, taking fresh air from outside inside.

You can do this by opening windows and doors and making use of regular fans and exhaust vents. Climate control can also be an option to decrease flying VOCs at home.

By continuing to keep the temperature and moisture to a minimum, you will minimize the quantity of chemical substances that are released into the atmosphere. Get rid of chemical substances and products, including VOCs, which you are not using anymore.

Even sealed storage containers and paint cans can release VOCs into the air. Make sure to correctly throw away these products at a waste collector. No matter where or when minimize items that have VOCs. As an alternative, buy eco-friendly materials using minimal amounts or no volatile organic compounds at all.

Did you Know

That household products have the potential to affect outdoor air quality just as much as transportation-related sources such as vehicle exhaust.

Volatile Organic Compound Examples

Volatile Organic Compounds contain a big collection of chemical substances which are present in lots of items we use, to keep up and construct our properties. The moment these chemical substances are around in our houses, they’re introduced or “off-gas” to the air we inhale. Smelling these substances isn’t a good sign.

Typical cases of VOCs that might exist in day-to-day life are ethylene glycol, benzene, methylene chloride, formaldehyde, and xylene.

Volatile Organic Compound Regulations in the US

VOCs, respond to nitrogen oxides in the summer months to develop ozone. Car fumes, gas-powered yard and garden gear, printing stores, and household chemical substances – are a few origins of VOCs. Some states have implemented rules that demand many businesses to lower their VOC pollutants.

These types of pollutants can be decreased by making process variations (including changing to minimum VOC material/finishing) or by setting up smog managing devices (including incinerators or carbon absorbents).

VOC legislation has to fulfill a strictness level they label as RACT, or “Reasonably Available Control Technology”. RACT is described as the lowest amount of pollutants that should be reached, taking into consideration the financial and technological factors.

EPA will provide assistance on RACT in papers known as “Control Technique Guidelines”. EPA recommendations and commentary on suggested state legislation, during the course of the state’s public hearing procedure, make sure that these principles match RACT.

The moment the state has implemented this VOC regulation, EPA authorizes the regulation into the state’s “State Implementation Plan” (SIP). The state’s VOC regulation then ends up being federally enforceable.

Volatile Organic Compound meter

VOC meters are state-of-art, sensitive and trustworthy handheld VOC sensors which are available on the market today.

How is a VOC meter used?

Basically, launch the unit and make use of it to determine locations of increased VOCs. A sound alarm will be heard in places where there are higher levels of VOCs. The VOC amount will be shown on the monitor. For additional safety, the device can be mounted to a wall and VOC amounts can be monitored constantly from these displays as well.

How does a VOC meter work?

The research carried out by this innovation is called “Photo-Ionisation Detection” (PID). The air is pulled into the detection enclosure by a mechanical device. UV light is implemented to ionize any organic chemical substances which are existing.

These types of ions are electrically charged, and the VOC meter identifies them as a small electric conductivity. They measure at which level an electric charge or heat can pass through a material. The larger the amount of pollution, the larger the current that moves.

Did you Know

That VOCs are unhealthy to breathe, but can also react with UV light or other pollutants in the air to form particulate matter or ozone and other reactive oxygen pollutants.

Volatile Organic Compound Testing

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) indicates that amounts higher than 500 ng/L (nanograms per liter) of VOCs can cause a health risk at home. But then again, records coming from plenty of houses examined reveal that the average value is 1200 ng/L, over twice the advisable amount.

Even somewhat increased amounts of these airborne chemical substances can cause health issues for the body, especially for young kids, seniors, women that are pregnant, and people suffering from asthma and allergic reactions.

Identifying the existence of VOCs call for state-of-the-art hardware and education. VOC investigation is dangerous when not performed by an expert.

Volatile Organic Compound Sensor

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large number of carbon formulated (organic) chemical substances (compounds) present in a variety of man-made and natural liquids and solids. These compounds evaporate easily at a standard room temperature which is why they’re named “volatile”.

Why Should you Measure VOCs

A few VOCs are dangerous to the human body and can harm you. Direct exposure to high levels of VOCs can result in throat discomfort, headaches, and harm to body organs. Constant exposure to small amounts usually leads to long-lasting health issues. The intensity on the body relies greatly upon the organic compound type together with the time of exposure.

Measuring targeted VOCs

Directed VOC measurements are helpful in monitoring surroundings (for example laboratories, reports) where the target compound is utilized and procedure controls or safety and health measurements are required.

To determine a targeted VOC, a well-known correction factor is used to calculate the relative value from isobutylene which is then applied for the sensor calibration. But then again, to prevent a cross interference, not any other VOCs should be found in the monitored area. For better precision, the detector can be adjusted to the target VOC making use of a calibration gas of the target compound.

Measuring mixed VOCs

Mixed VOC measurement are typically used to identify the existence of VOCs in unrestrained surroundings (for example workplaces, in the open air) to identify the quality of air. In this situation, the measurement is applied as a relative indicator to showcase the presence of VOCs in the area.

A few VOCs will affect the reading more as opposed to others – known as cross-interference – the measurement is for that reason only a guidance indicator.

VOC Testing Kit

A VOC Test Kit can help to determine the amounts for over 50 VOCs such as Benzene, Toluene, Styrene and a lot more. Several organic chemical substances can be found in the offices or homes, and these chemical substances might be harmful and dangerous.

A Volatile Organic Compounds Test Kit is able to recognize up to 70 different chemical substances that can be found inside the house. The Volatile Organic Compounds Test Kit calculates and detects the amounts of VOC’s at any given location.

This Test Kit is able to take in VOC particles by sucking in air from a room size of up to 2800 sq. ft. as it is tested over a 1 to 2 days time-period ( the best measurement time period is 1 day). A VOC kit is helpful to examine the chemical compounds at home and in commercial buildings such as hospitals, schools, hotels, and so on.

Did you Know

That formaldehyde, benzene, acetone, and ethylene glycol are just some examples of the potential VOCs lurking in hotel rooms.

VOC Testing in Home

Clean air is important for a healthy lifestyle. Home air checks are utilized in a lot more apartments and homes as compared to any other air examinations. Valid, easy to understand results and a straight forward procedure, VOC testing at home can be done in a couple of steps.

Why get your Home Air Checked?
Based on the Environmental Protection Agency, the indoor quality of air is a bigger health risk than outdoor smog, with air-borne pollutants to be up to 100 times higher inside the house. 80 percent of the offices and houses examined have bad air quality.

Chemical substances given off by typical household items can result in discomfort, breathing problems, and even diseases.

VOC Testing Equipment

Very little amounts of VOCs over a certain time period can result in long lasting harmful consequences to the human body and therefore needs to be checked. A few VOCs, when having high concentration levels, can be very volatile and occasionally flammable. 3 detecting innovations are commonly utilized to identify the existence of VOCs in a particular area or from a testing place.

These 3 detecting technologies are “Photoionization” (PID), “Flame Ionization” (FID), and “Catalytic Bead“.

These portable measures are utilized by environmental experts and commercial hygienists to identify leakage alongside pipelines or coming from below the ground storage tanks.

Volatile Organic Compound Emissions

In the year 2014, VOC emissions were 2157 kilotonnes (kt), a raise of 13 kt (1%) from the year 2013. Discharges of VOCs in 2014 were 2147 kt, 50% less compared to 1990. The decrease of VOC pollutants is primarily caused by:

  • The eco-friendly movement and fuels producing less pollution.
  • Reducing emission from the majority of industrial and non-industrial companies
  • Reduced amounts of VOCs in products including paints, solvents, and cleaners.

How Do VOCs Get Into Indoor Air?

Items that contain VOCs are able to discharge these chemical substances when they’re utilized and when they’re put into storage. Often you will smell something when using these items.

Item tags usually show VOC components and suggest that they should be used in spaces with adequate airflow. Construction materials and furnishings, including carpets, rugs, and furniture, gradually discharge VOCs in the longer run.

It may be required to vent spaces with new carpeting or furniture for extended periods as VOC amounts can increase when the windows are shut. Preferably, keep furniture or unroll carpets outdoors to cut down on the smells before taking them in the house.

If that is impossible, open the windows, shut the doors and stay out of the room until the smell is gone. When products containing VOCs are utilized outdoors close to your house, you might want to shut windows and close-by vents to avoid chemical substances from getting inside the house.

When you’re using a product that contains VOCs inside the house, the amounts of these chemical substances in the air will rise and decline in the longer run when you stop making use of them.

The time period these chemicals remain in the air will depend on how fast clean air comes into the room and the quantity of the element that is used. Amounts of VOCs will decline a lot quicker when you open doors or windows, or when you’re making use of an exhaust fan.

VOCs can also reach indoors from polluted grounds and water underneath properties. The chemical substances that are entering properties via opening and splits in cellars.

Did you Know

That smog, typically caused by industrial and traffic pollution, can contain VOC concentrations that may negatively impact a child’s development.

Should I be Surprised if VOCs are in the Air I Breathe?

Not really. Given that VOCs are frequently applied, VOCs are pretty much regularly spotted from your indoor air. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) and some other organizations have examined common amounts of VOCs that exist in the air outdoors and indoors. Occasionally these amounts are known as “background levels”.

The definition of “background levels” can be complicated given that they can differ based on where an air test was conducted and whether or not VOCs were utilized or stashed. For instance, a research of VOCs in towns may possibly show higher amounts as compared to other examinations in remote places.

A few examinations had a look at workplace conditions, others analyzed homes. Please remember research results might or might not seem applicable to your location.

How can VOCs in the Air Affect Human health?

Chemical substances can go into the human body 3 ways: inhaling, touching or ingesting. This is commonly known as exposure. Whether or not an individual will get health issues after breathing in VOCs will depend on:

– The toxic body of the chemical (the danger which can be ignited by getting in touch with the substance).
– How much of the substance is floating around?
– How long and how frequently the air is inhaled?
– Variations in age, health situation, gender and exposure to other chemical substances can also impact whether or not an individual will get health issues.

Temporary exposure to large amounts of certain VOCs can result in severe headaches, faintness, light-headedness, sleepiness, vomiting, breathing and eye irritation. These effects typically disappear after the exposure ends.

With lab animals, prolonged exposure to large amounts of certain VOCs resulted in cancer and damaging the liver, kidney and neurological system. Overall, we suggest reducing exposure to chemical substances when possible.

Air Purifiers for VOCs, Odor and Gases

An air purifier is a terrific way to remove dangerous gasses and undesirable smells from your home, but the filter type needed to ban gaseous airborne pollutants is often omitted. An ordinary particle filter won’t do an adequate job of getting rid of these components.

Instead, an activated carbon filter is very effective at capturing smoke, bad smells, and other dangerous gaseous chemical substances. Using about 2 to 4 pounds of active carbon, produced with magnesium dioxide and copper oxide, this filter is good at capturing unsafe chemical substances and inconvenient smells.

Remember that the existence of active carbon might impact the flow of air and your CADR.

Volatile Organic Compounds in Water

The main path to subjection to VOCs is by breathing in these compounds. However, it is also a possibility to consume them in water and food. For a few VOCs, exposure through the skin is an additional factor to consider. Once introduced, VOCs move fast through the atmosphere.

They’re able to filter inside the top soil and ultimately wind up in the water. VOCs aren’t generally present in drinking water that originates from surface water supplies including ponds, reservoirs or streams, Given that they likely evaporate into the atmosphere.

It is a possibility for specific VOCs to hit certain levels in drinking water. You will find 23 compounds defined as VOCs in drinking water nowadays. Among these, 8 are outlined as carcinogens, or possible cancer-causing carcinogens.

The chance of VOCs to become a health issue is dependent upon the toxicity of the pollutant, a number of pollutants, the exposure circumstances and the time frame of exposure. Elements like age, medical condition, gender and exposure to other chemical substances can influence the possible health impacts for men and women.

People working in surroundings in which they’re exposed to large volumes of specific VOCs in the air have unwanted health issues. When consumed in high quantities, a variety of VOCs have been found to result in cancer, and issues with the liver, kidneys and neurological system.

How do VOCs get into Drinking Water?

Many VOCs present in the ecosystem are a consequence of human action. Once VOCs are leaked or incorrectly got rid of, a part will evaporate, but a few VOCs will go into the surface. On the ground, VOCs might be taken deeper by rainfall, water or snow and ultimately get to the groundwater.

When VOCs travel underground to surrounding wells, they’re able to ultimately wind up in drinking water resources. Your water supplier checks for 23 VOCs and numerous methods lately analyzed for an extra 7 VOCs included in the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.

They publish the test outcomes in the customer confidence report every year. This document is usually available online, and you might also get in touch with your water supplier to inquire a written copy. Get in touch with your water provider to get more information concerning VOC examinations and outcomes.

Volatile Organic Compounds List

Here is a list of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Paints and Coatings
A significant origin of man-made VOCs is finishes, particularly paints and protecting coatings. Solvents are needed to distribute a protecting or decorating layer. About 12 billion liters of paints are produced a year.

Common solvents are generally aliphatic hydrocarbons, glycol ethers, and acetone. Driven by price, ecological challenges, and legislation, the coating and paint industry is more and more shifting in the direction of aqueous solvents.

Chlorofluorocarbons and chlorocarbons
Chlorofluorocarbons, that are prohibited or extremely controlled, were extensively utilized in cleaning equipment and refrigerants. Tetrachloroethene is utilized extensively in dry cleaning.

Fossil Fuels
The consumption of petroleum-based fuels generates VOCs either straight as products (for example, petrol) or indirectly as by-products (for example, vehicle exhaust fumes).

One particular VOC which is an identified human carcinogen is benzene, a chemical present in cigarette smoke, gasoline, and vehicle exhaust fumes. Benzene also comes from other places including volcanoes and forest fires.

It’s often utilized to generate other chemical substances in the manufacturing of plastics and synthetic materials. Benzene disappears into the air fast and the benzene vaporization has a heavier weight as compared to air, permitting the element to move into lower places.

Benzene is also able to pollute water and food and if digested can result in nausea, faintness, sleepiness, fast heartbeat, and at high amounts, even death.

Methylene Chloride
Methylene chloride appears in aerosol spray paints and adhesive removers. In the body of a human, methylene chloride is processed to become carbon monoxide. When an item that covers methylene chloride needs to be used the most effective way to protect a person is to apply the solution outdoors.

If it should be utilized inside the house, correct ventilation helps to keep the exposure values down. In the US, methylene chloride is outlined as an exempt from VOC.

Perchloroethylene is also a VOC which is related to causing cancer to animals. It’s also believed to cause lots of the respiration linked signs of exposure to VOCs. Perchloroethylene is utilized mainly in dry cleaning.

While dry cleaners retake perchloroethylene in the dry cleaning procedure to use it again, discharge into the open air is sometimes is inevitable.

MTBE was prohibited in US states in 2004 to minimize pollution of drinking water. MTBE was utilized as an octane oxygenated additive and booster.

Many construction materials including paints, adhesive material, wall boards, and roof tiles gradually give off formaldehyde, that harms the mucous membranes and is able to make an individual agitated and unpleasant. Formaldehyde emissions coming from timber are in the rate of 0.02 to 0.04 ppm.

Relative humidity indoors can also influence the pollutants of formaldehyde. Higher relative humidity and heat enables additional vaporization of formaldehyde from wood-products.

Air Recommended Air Purifiers

Our Pick Perfect for bedrooms, playrooms, and living rooms, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH is one of the best-performing, most durable, and most economical purifiers we’ve tested.

Most Popular The Levoit Core 300 air purifier has some strong suits, but in our opinion it falls short of carving out a meaningful niche for itself. Its ideal use would be in a small bedroom occupied by someone who is sensitive to noise.

Also Great With high end air cleaning performance and a whisper quiet fan, the Winix 5500-2 is the perfect combination of power and finesse. It cleared airborne particulates out of our smokey testing room faster than any other model.

Best of the Best If you have a large space you want to remove irritants from, We recommend the Airmega 400S. All of Coway air purifiers do an excellent job of attacking indoor pollutants, and we highly recommend any of them. The 400S is designed to accommodate large room sizes.

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Tox Town
United States Environmental Protection Agency

About the author

Hi I’m Alex, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

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