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Learn About VOCs and How They Hurt Your Indoor Air Quality

Learn About VOCs and How They Hurt Your Indoor Air QualityWith cooler weather approaching, it’s important to think about the quality of your indoor air. Your indoor air can be many times more toxic than the air we breathe outside. This is partly because of chemicals that are emitted from materials such as paint or lacquer, solvent, home cleaning solutions, and even foam padding under our carpets. These are known as VOCs or “volatile organic compounds.” VOCs may be defined as gases or particles released by carbon-based materials in your home. A good ventilation system should work to remove these chemical irritants from your house, and it should also pull fresh air inside. This dilutes the concentration of these gases, making the indoor air healthier to breathe. VOCs can came from:

  • oil, gas, coal, wood and even candles
  • tobacco products
  • wet/damp carpet and flooring, and new carpeting
  • pesticides, radon, pollution (outdoor air pollutants getting in)
  • household cleaning products
  • personal toiletries such as hair spray and deodorant
  • off-gassing from new furniture or carpeting

The immediate effects of these contaminants on our bodies are irritation to eyes, nose and/or throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue, and an exacerbation of asthma. The chemicals emitted can include formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, chromium, xylene and benzene. One of the least expensive ways to improve air quality is by introducing houseplants. A study by NASA has shown that certain houseplants are adept at removing certain toxins from the air, including a variety of VOCs. Some of the most effective are the aloe vera, spider plant and the mother-in-law’s tongue.

The best way to improve your indoor air is to install a centralized ventilation system. This pulls the air through filters to clean it and to remove particles of dust, mold spores and other airborne contaminants, as well some VOCs. Other solutions might include the installation of exhaust fans. Operating a humidifier in the winter can also improve your indoor air since dry air provides a welcoming environment for VOCs and other particulates to circulate in your home.

Our professionals at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning will be happy to evaluate your HVAC system and give you expert advice. We provide superior HVAC services to the Fresno area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about VOCs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “luxxxam/Shutterstock”