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monitoring indoor air quality

What Are VOCs and How Can You Combat Them?

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases emitted from a variety of chemical products. VOCs introduce chemicals into the air that lower your air quality and can potentially affect your health. These gases occur at higher concentrations indoors than outdoors (sometimes up to 10x higher) and are therefore known as a common contributor to poor indoor air quality. Common household products that contain VOCs include:

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Pesticides
  • Wood cleaners and preservatives
  • Paint strippers and solvents
  • Stored fuel
  • Building materials
  • Glues and adhesives

How Do VOCs Affect My Health?

Now that we understand what volatile organic compounds are, we should talk about how they affect your health. The strength of these harmful gases can range from highly toxic to very minimal and, therefore, affect your health in different ways.

Some effects will sound similar to that of poor air quality, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, and nausea, with others being more severe, like allergic skin reactions, shortness of breath, nose bleeds, and vomiting.

7 Easy Ways to Combat VOCs

The best way to handle volatile organic compounds is to reduce your exposure to them and put into practice solutions meant to increase your overall indoor air quality. We put together a list of seven ways to maximize the air quality in your home, so your it stays comfortable all year long.

  1. Look carefully at the chemicals you currently have in your home. If any of the chemical solutions you have are expired, throw them away. This will guarantee you are working with solutions in the state they were intended to be used. Whatever chemicals remain, make sure you are meeting (or even exceeding) the safety instructions the manufacturer provides.
  2. A low cost (read: free) solution is opening your doors or windows more often—increasing airflow throughout your home. Utilizing ceiling fans during this process is a great way to further increase the circulation of air.
  3. Think about using high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters). These filters trap particles in the air to a mat of dense fibers located within your HVAC or air purification system.
  4. Keep existing HVAC systems in tip-top shape. While these systems are designed to improve your comfort, when they are dirty or malfunctioning, they can do more harm than good. Make sure your heating or air conditioning unit is regularly serviced, and any filters attached to them are properly cleaned.
  5. Regulate your humidity levels. Overly humid areas can attract mites and mold, while overly dry spaces can make your home feel colder than it really is, causing an increase in utility bills and an overworked HVAC system. You can buy a room humidifier/dehumidifier or invest in a whole-home unit to keep your humidity levels consistent.
  6. Keep the floors clean. Vacuuming floors weekly can drastically limit the amount of dust and particles present in your floor. When possible, replacing carpets with hardwood flooring can reduce particle buildup as well.
  7. Test for radon. Inhaling radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to the EPA. Because this gas is odorless, installing a radon reduction system is a great way to make sure your home is protected.

For more information on improving your indoor air quality through quality HVAC solutions, call Meyer’s today at (219) 240-0610 or contact us online.