Volatile organic compounds (VOC)s are among the most common indoor air pollutants in our homes. They are present in everything from paint to furniture fabric treatments and easily evaporate into the air at room temperature. This is a process called off-gasing.
In addition to the building materials used in your home, your furnishings and paints, other sources of volatile organic compounds in your home include air fresheners, cosmetics, moth balls, disinfectants, cooking fuel, newspapers, pesticides and various other in-home chemicals.
Recent studies have found that the amount of volatile organic compounds inside a typical home is two to five times higher than in the air outside. The amount of VOCs in a home will depend on the amount of VOCs in a particular product, the rate at which they are released, the amount of air in the house and the ventilation rate of the home.
Long term-exposure to VOCs increases the chances of developing certain types of cancers, liver damage, kidney damage and damage to the central nervous system. Short-term exposure can lead to headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, dizziness, and increased and more severe asthma attacks. Young children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and those who suffer from asthma are particularly vulnerable to the effects of inhaled VOCs.
The best thing you can do to protect your family from VOCs is to not bring them into your home in the first place. Consider purchasing new items that have low VOC finishes, floor models that have been off-gasing in the store for a while and solid wood pieces with a natural finish. The next best thing, and that has the most immediate effect, is increasing the ventilation in your home. Opening windows and using fans to bring outdoor air in will quickly reduce VOC concentrations in your home. A whole house fan is a great way to do this while reducing your utility bill.
For more information on volatile organic compounds, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning. We’ve provided Fresno area homeowners with quality HVAC services since 1970.
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 volatile organic compounds and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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