Common Sources of VOCs in the Home: How to Limit Your Exposure

Common VOCs in the HomeThere's a certain allure to the smell of a new car or that clean citrus smell from a recently-used cleaning product. However, despite how pleasant a scent may be, it's important to consider the sources of any odors in the home and whether or not they are conducive to good health. Many smells that come from products for the home contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs. The scent can be natural, as from a pine tree or a fresh orange. It can also be man-made, like an artificial pine-scented cleanser or the smell of drying paint. Some VOCs may not produce an odor at all.

Not all VOCs found indoors present harmful health effects to people and pets who live inside that home. However, the safety of a particular compound depends heavily on the person, the exposure, and the frequency. People who encounter a particular VOC all day every day may have a different experience than those who only come into contact with it on rare occasions. Reactions will vary from person to person. Those who have asthma or other chronic health problems have additional reasons to control their exposure to VOCs. With this guide, households can better understand the health effects certain VOCs can have, common VOCs that they can find in their homes, where they might find them, and how they can limit their exposure.

What Are Volatile Organic Compounds?

Some compounds release a gas. It is often, but not always, accompanied by an odor that people may recognize. Although each compound contains carbon, they are unique and have variable boiling points. The boiling point, which can sometimes be surprisingly low, is the temperature at which a solid or liquid might release a gas. Anyone who has pulled a piece of melted, smelly plastic out of a hot car has an idea of what this means. This process is called “off-gassing,” and may pose health concerns for people who are around these products.

Most people are familiar with VOCs as they relate to paint, cleaning products, new cars, and other materials. However, there is a huge range of possible solids and liquids that may release VOCs as part of a natural process or simply due to their manufacture. Although most products that households encounter will be manmade, some can be biological. The scent of pine in a forest is a sign of VOCs nearby.

VOCs can off-gas for a short period or continually for years. As volatile compounds, by definition they are unstable, which means that certain circumstances can change how much gas they release into the air. In many cases, increasing the temperature of the product or decreasing ventilation can make the situation more noticeable and harder to manage. It is virtually impossible for people to completely avoid all VOCs in daily life. But understanding the various issues related to VOCs helps people make better decisions about the materials and equipment they buy.

Health Effects

VOC and Respiratory Health

People who have spent the day painting only to find themselves needing to lay down later with a terrible headache have a basic grasp of the health effects of VOCs. In fact, most products and compounds that pose health risks to people simply by being near them count as VOCs. Asbestos insulation in older homes, for example, could be extremely risky if it is disturbed. Similarly, a high level of radon on a property can create health problems for the people who live inside.

Since the compounds are unstable, people should not expect that they can be entirely safe around them. Health effects range from relatively minor, such as itchy eyes, to serious conditions like cancer. The location of the off-gassing and the materials surrounding it also matter. For example, certain VOC fumes can be highly combustible. People should take special care in the use and storage of items containing VOCs, especially around more vulnerable members of a household such as:

  • infants and young children
  • older adults
  • people with certain health conditions, such as asthma
  • pets

Short-Term

The fact that VOCs are so prevalent may lead people to think that they are generally harmless. The similarity of the short-term health effects to other conditions can also make it more difficult to identify the root cause. Symptoms of exposure to VOCs depend on the compound, such as benzene, formaldehyde, or toluene. Generally, people who are near off-gassing products may notice the following signs:

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • breathing difficulties
  • coughing
  • burning eyes or throat
  • nausea
  • increased likelihood of asthma attacks

These symptoms often increase based on the frequency and duration of the exposure. This means that someone who spends an hour around an off-gassing material may not notice any signs at all. By comparison, sleeping on a new mattress high in VOCs can yield health concerns almost immediately. People should keep in mind that symptoms can change over time, even if exposure does not. As with lead poisoning, being around some compounds may show few or no signs at all until accumulation in the blood reaches a certain level.

Long-Term

The list of short-term and long-term health effects of VOC exposure can be similar. People who are around off-gassing paint or plastics all day may continue to suffer the effects, even if they wear off relatively quickly. All VOCs affect people by inhalation or by direct skin contact. As such, symptoms of long-term exposure to VOCs may include:

  • persistent headaches
  • dizziness or difficulty concentrating
  • nausea
  • breathing problems or lung cancer
  • liver or kidney damage related to the body’s attempt to remove toxins
  • central nervous system conditions

Although short-term effects are far more common, health risks over a period of years should not be ignored. The National Cancer Institute estimates that up to 22,000 people die due to lung cancer caused by radon exposure each year. People who live in areas rich in certain metals are more likely to develop this condition caused by inhaling radon gas at home.

Possible VOC Sources at Home

VOCs in Paint

Realistically, households may expect to find a few materials, fixtures, or equipment that contain VOCs in every room of the home. VOCs can often be more harmful inside the home because of the difference in ventilation compared to VOCs outside. Houses that are tightly sealed and insulated are more energy-efficient, but often rely solely on mechanical ventilation to improve indoor air quality. One must use ventilation properly to avoid accumulation of contaminants resulting from off-gassing.

The best tool for residents of any home is to better understand which aspects of the home are more likely to contain VOCs. There are alternatives in most categories, although these may not be the most cost-effective or available in every location. Households should evaluate their risks in each area of the home and determine which aspects may be best to consider other materials or approaches.

Paint & Coatings

Of materials containing VOCs, paint is usually one of the best-known. Paint releases gas as it is mixed and during evaporation while it dries. Paints and coatings use certain compounds to help keep them liquid before use, and dry quickly after they have been applied to a surface. As such, paint is more volatile while it is a liquid, and as it evaporates. In fact, paint is one of the largest emitters of VOCs worldwide, after vehicles.

These liquids contain thousands of chemicals, hundreds of which may be toxic if humans sustain a high level of exposure. Lead is a well-known VOC, and lead exposure in the home used to come primarily from paint on walls and windowsills. Although paint containing lead was banned decades ago, some paint products still pose a risk to households. These compounds include toluene, benzene, acetone, and more. Many VOCs in paint, paint thinners, and coatings contain an odor that lets people know that it is off-gassing. However, it is important to remember that the absence of an odor does not mean that VOCs are no longer releasing.

Reducing Exposure

Historically, increasing ventilation during and after painting indoors has been the best way to decrease overall exposure. People should open doors and windows and turn on a fan while painting and for at least up to 24 hours afterward. Wearing protective gear for eyes, mouth, and hands will minimize any inhalation and surface contact. Any paint leftovers should be stored in a shed away from the home or garage, or safely disposed of after the project.

New products on the market also make it easier for households to cut down on the VOCs they inhale. They should look for brands featuring paint and coatings with low levels of VOCs.

People should remember that low-VOC or no-VOC paints may still not be completely free of these compounds. The EPA sets levels particularly low for manufacturers to be able to advertise a product in these categories. This designation usually applies to paint without colors added. Changing the color often adds additional VOCs to the liquid.

Flooring

Flooring Offgassing VOCs

While materials like paint tend to emit VOCs in the early part of the product’s use within the home, flooring can have the opposite concern. Specifically, flooring made of vinyl, carpet, wood, and wood composite may off-gas VOCs for years after installation. Formaldehyde is one of the most-common VOCs used in flooring. It can be a component of a material’s production, particularly for vinyl, laminate, and engineered hardwood. It may also be used in sealants that protect the flooring from damage resulting from wear. A few years ago, one laminate manufacturer recalled their products after testing revealed formaldehyde levels much higher than some states consider legally acceptable.

Frequency of use may determine when and how much that item or product will off-gas over time. Unlike most products, flooring sustains a much higher degree of contact from people walking on the surface regularly. Releasing gases as a result of wear may increase over time. Carpet can produce noticeable VOCs for as long as five years or more. During the installation process, remember that many adhesives used to seal the material to the subfloor also contain VOCs.

Reducing Exposure

As with paint, ventilation during and after installation is vital. People may not want to open doors or windows to the outside, particularly if they are installing the flooring during the winter or while young children are in the home. So in these and other cases, using the ventilation system of the home becomes extremely important. Since certain types of flooring can off-gas for years, making a habit out of regularly ventilating the home is the best approach. This is particularly crucial for bedrooms and other areas where people will spend many hours at a time.

Otherwise, homeowners might consider purchasing natural flooring or materials that have had little treatment. Some flooring options say that they are natural or organic, but these designations can mean different things depending on the product. People should investigate their state’s limits on VOCs for flooring and select ones that best fit their needs.

Furniture & Office Equipment

The smell of a freshly-made bench or chest that's made out of oak, pine, or cedar can be a joy for homeowners. However, not all VOCs contain a pleasant odor. Some VOCs present in furniture and office equipment may require special attention. In particular, furniture pieces made with plywood or particle board contain higher levels of formaldehyde and toluene. Furniture padding often comes from polyurethane foam, commonly associated with VOCs and semi-volatile organic compounds. Office equipment is notorious for off-gassing, particularly pieces made of various plastics.

As with flooring, VOCs in furniture can be part of the manufacturing or treatment process after construction. This means that surface coatings added to upholstered furniture or mattresses to prevent staining or make it flame-retardant usually contain VOCs as well. Since people tend to come in close contact with furniture and mattresses for long periods of time, it is important to research products to determine how off-gassing occurs for each product. In particular, porous surfaces can release VOCs more easily and can also attract them from other materials. This is similar to the way that smoking in a room can stain the furniture.

Reducing Exposure

Controlling exposure to VOCs from furniture and office equipment requires multiple approaches. First, homeowners should try to select materials that are less likely to off-gas VOCs, such as solid hardwood. Second, buying used furniture whenever possoble helps, since most pieces’ potential to release gas decreases over time. Third, they should ensure that the home as the ability to be well-ventilated, and may want to consider an air purifier for certain rooms.

Buying used may not be a practical choice for some neccessities such as mattresses. Mattresses made entirely of foam have become very popular in the mainstream, but they tend to contain higher levels of toluene. Investigate the manufacturers to determine which standards they follow and how much time the mattress needs to off-gas before someone tries sleeping on it. This is especially important for beds for babies, children, older adults, and people with chronic breathing problems or illnesses. Setting up the furniture but not using it for a few days or weeks may limit some of the long-term effects.

Plastics

VOCs From Plastics

The prevalence of plastics in the home and the ease with which they leach chemicals into liquids make them more likely to off-gas VOCs. Plastics enter our homes in the form of toys, technological devices, food prep gadgets and more. People who are familiar with when many manufacturers’ switched away from using plastic containing Bisphenol-A may recall that all plastics are not created equal. There are many different types, and some could be more problematic than others. A lot of plastics in the home are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Although manufacturers claim that products made with PVC do not release vinyl chloride vapor, they can off-gas VOCs known as phthalates.

The mechanics of exposure are also important to consider for plastics. Many people store foods and water in plastic bottles and containers. Over time, these tools may off-gas VOCs into the food or water, which are then consumed by residents of the home. Putting hot solids or liquids inside a plastic container increases the exposure, as does placing them in a microwave or dishwasher. This means that people have a higher chance of coming into contact with VOCs everyday through normal inhalation and consumption of their food, over any other source of VOC exposure in the home.

Reducing Exposure

Although this is not always the easiest goal to set, cutting down on plastic use in the home can make a difference. Researchers indicate that switching from one form of plastic to another may not be the best choice. The replacement for BPA when manufacturers were phasing it out was not risk-free. Instead, people may want to do the following:

  • select items for food preparation, serving and storage that are not made of plastic
  • avoid heating up plastic containers
  • rely on reusable fabric bags and non-plastic storage containers elsewhere in the home
  • allow toys and furniture plenty of time to off-gas before use

Since plastics tend to release more VOCs as they break down, periodically checking on the condition of plastic items throughout the home can help. For example, a plastic food container that is warped from the dishwasher is probably better to recycle rather than continuing its use.

Cleaners & Disinfectants

Cleaners, sterilizers and disinfectants are another category in which people have come to expect at least some contact with VOCs. Bleach, ammonia and other solvents create harsh fumes that users can identify as soon as they open the bottle. Many people use these as a way to minimize their exposure to other, possibly worse VOCs like mold. However, many cleaning products contain common VOCs, such as isopropyl alcohol or acetone. Some cleansers even have a scent added to cover up the odors of its fumes made by the chemical compound, such as citrus or pine. Yet, these are often artificial and have VOCs, as well.

Effects from coming into contact with VOCs from cleaning products can include breathing difficulties, burning of the eyes or throat, and chemical burns on the skin. Severe effects relate to the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems of the body. Exposure is more common with products that come in a spray form, and for people who spend a lot of their time cleaning. Mixing chemicals can increase the potential for damage due to exposure. Combining bleach with ammonia, for example, creates chlorine gas which can be deadly.

Reducing Exposure

Using cleaning products that are lower in VOCs is one of the easiest ways for households to manage their exposure. For example, many people prefer to use a combination of baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and water instead of other abrasives or bleach. These products are not practical for all applications, but may work well for most cleaning situations. Otherwise, people can increase ventilation, especially in the room where they are cleaning. Using harsh chemicals should not be done without an open window or door and a fan running.

It is important to understand the difference between air purifiers and air fresheners. Purifiers can actually remove certain gases and contaminants from the air, depending on the product and its degree of filtration. They can be very useful for removing the fumes after cleaning as well. Air fresheners tend to simply release another scent into the air, typically containing VOCs. Adding houseplants to the home is an easy and effective remove VOCs naturally.

Refrigerants

Many pieces of equipment in the home rely on refrigeration to prevent overheating and maintain proper temperature. This typically requires one of several types of refrigerants, all of which can contain VOCs. Refrigerants works to extract heat from one space and expel that heat into another place, which is ideally a larger or well-ventilated area. In order for this process to occur, the refrigerant must be converted from a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid again. Homeowners may have items such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers that use refrigerant.

In 2015, the federal government started to phase out production of a certain type of refrigerant more commonly known as Freon. Its replacement, which may be a hydrofluorocarbon like trichlorofluoromethane, also contains VOCs. In a perfect world, people would never have any physical contact with a refrigerant. This substance can be injurious and toxic, which means it is generally kept within a sealed line that does not gain access to the open air. However, this line can break or leak from time to time, especially as the equipment gets older. If there is a break in the line, the liquid may be quite volatile. It has a faint odor that, when recognized, can help to alert people to it presence.

Reducing Exposure

Besides addressing faults in the refrigerant line, households can minimize their risk for health concerns by giving closed pieces of equipment, such as refrigerators, time to off-gas before they begin to use it. For example, certain refrigerators and freezers might have VOCs emitting resulting from plastics, foam insulation, and/or refrigerant. For the first month or so, while the equipment is new, people may want to keep all food items in fridges and freezers sealed in airtight containers. This will help to prevent any off-gassing VOCs from getting absorbed into food residents intend to consume.

For the refrigerant itself, households ought to confirm that all equipment is working properly. Any refrigerant seen outside the line is an indication of a problem that can be harmful over time. Regular upkeep of HVAC equipment and prompt requests for repairs reduce the likelihood that the refrigerant will leak. This is also true for other machines that use refrigerant, like a vehicle. Homeowners should also watch for and pay attention to ineffective cooling, which may be the first sign that the refrigerant has a leak.

Personal Care Items

VOC Containing Products in Bathroom

When people consider the overall environmental effects of VOCs derived from fossil fuels, they often think about smoke stacks, oil refineries or anything having to do with gasoline. In truth, there are many petroleum products that people put directly onto their own bodies that contain VOCs, too. Personal care items can be an important aspect to consider when discussing this subject, since so many people put them on their faces, spray near the eyes and nose, and apply them directly to their children's skin. This can increase the likelihood of health effects from VOCs for more sensitive individuals. Products that commonly use VOCs to suspend or bind liquids include:

  • nail polish
  • nail polish remover
  • lotions and creams
  • hair and body sprays
  • deodorants and antiperspirants
  • colognes and perfumes

Although sprays tend to be the heaviest contaminators as they are with cleaning products, liquids and wipes can also release VOCs. One study showed that as much as 40 percent of lotion ends up off-gassed into the surrounding indoor air. Given how they are used, personal care items often contain heavy scents to cover up unpleasant odors. However, a pleasing scent (or no smell at all) does not indicate that the product is free of VOCs. The fact that many products in this category are not regulated by the government means that there can be a high degree of variability in the VOC content.

Reducing Exposure

When it comes to limiting VOCs in materials placed directly on the body, less tends to be more. The use of nail polish or lacquers requires nail polish remover. All of these contain VOCs and strong fumes that require at least a moderate amount of ventilation during the application, drying, and removing process. People might opt to use these products less frequently, or select low-VOC alternatives.

Natural products tend to have fewer VOCs, but people should remember that this classification is not always meaningful. For example, in order to make all-natural beauty products at home, people need to research the production of each ingredient. Something marketed as green or organic might still have VOCs, possibly even the same ones as the man-made options. This may be an area to do a little extra study, since people deliberately put beauty products near the eyes and mouth.

Dry-Cleaned Materials

Plenty of people own clothing items listed as “dry-clean only.” Although this indicates that the clothing is cleaned somehow without getting it wet, this is often untrue. In fact, dry-cleaning describes a process in which clothes are cleaned with a solvent other than water. Specifically, the cleaning product used is typically perchloroethylene (PERC), a petroleum-based substance that releases VOCs. Professional cleaning companies may also use trichloroethylene (TCE). People who work in these establishments may encounter skin irritation with low exposure, or possibly cancer with high exposure over time.

In theory, PERC and TCE should both be fully recovered by the machine doing the cleaning. However, it is still likely that a small amount of the substance remains in the clothing. People may notice a faint odor coming from dry-cleaned clothes, especially at pick up. This also applies to dry-cleaning companies that specialize in upholstery or other textiles that do not leave the home. As a result of the concerns surrounding the use of PERC or TCE, many dry cleaners have switched to using other methods. For example, some companies now use carbon dioxide as a cleaning solvent. Although it is a carbon-based compound, it is generally not listed as a VOC.

Reducing Exposure

Decreasing VOCs from dry-cleaning typically translates into less dry-cleaning or the use of other methods to clean textiles. Although people generally want to wear clean clothing, what this means can vary from one person to the next. Clothing that is worn for an hour or two and then put back in the closet might not need any cleaning at all. People may prefer to spot-clean certain fabrics at home and save a thorough, professional cleaning for every other wear.

Some people benefit from steam cleaning or “wet cleaning” as an alternative. Many textiles can sustain wet cleaning without shrinking or other damage. People may want to make a decision based on the material and what the garment tag states, as some fabrics are more delicate than others. Steam cleaning is one of the most common alternatives to dry cleaning. Some dry-cleaning companies also use water-based cleaning solutions to remove stains.

Cars & Stored Fuels

Properly Storing Fuel

Although the car is not part of a home, its presence on the property and the frequency of use can pose several possible concerns for households. The “new car smell” is the most wonderful but obvious indicator of off-gassing VOCs. And when it comes motor vehicles and their fuel, there are many more VOCs to be aware of. Households should consider the following aspects of stored cars:

  • fuel and fuel storage
  • plastics
  • upholstery and floor mats
  • wood veneers
  • refrigerant for the air conditioning unit
  • windshield wiper fluid or transmission fluid
  • antifreeze

The VOCs present in cars include toluene, benzene, and styrene. Since the car’s ventilation is only in use while the car is running, a stagnant environment can increase the levels of VOCs inside the cabin. Research indicates that high temperatures, as people might encounter on a hot day, can dramatically increase off-gassing of VOCs inside the car. Although using the air conditioning or fan can help to cycle out some of the gases, evidence suggests that periodically leaving a window open may be the most effective. The release rate of VOCs drops over time. As such, the older a car and its contents are, the less likely there are to be VOCs.

Reducing Exposure

New cars in areas with high heat and minimal ventilation tend to have higher levels of total VOCs. If households are thinking about purchasing a new car instead of one that is at least a couple of years old, they may want to research the materials used by the company to make the padded seating, upholstery, and other features of the cabin. Products emitting lower VOCs might be preferable but more costly. Otherwise, more sensitive people may benefit from buying a slightly used car.

The off-gassing of fuel or fluids can happen at any time, since they are replaced or topped-off on a regular basis. This means that extra fuel, bottles of oil or other automobile fluids should be kept in a well-ventilated place away from the home. Some people opt to put them in a shed that is protected from weather but not sealed tightly or attached to the home. This helps to promote proper airflow without compromising the indoor air quality of the home.

Hobby Supplies

Hobbies can be a great way to pass the time, but they often involve supplies that release VOCs. Crafts and activities that include building, painting, or sealing are more likely to present a concern that households need to consider. This category requires a little extra care in part because people are more likely to involve their children in the use of these supplies. Common hobby and craft products containing VOCs include:

  • glues and modeling cement
  • spray adhesives
  • paints, lacquers, and coatings
  • treated wood products
  • polyurethane foam

Some supplies, like glue or paint, will off-gas most of the VOCs during the curing process. Once they are completely dry, they may release much less. This can be somewhat misleading, however. Something that is fully dry on the surface may still be wet or tacky underneath, indicating that off-gassing could still happen. Certain glues or epoxy may take up to a month to cure. Liquids in spray form can increase the exposure. Airbrushing or spray-painting needs to be done outside or in an area with ideal ventilation. Others, such as fabrics or foam, may still give off VOCs for months or even years afterward.

Reducing Exposure

As with other materials, the level of exposure matters. Although people may think that hobbies and crafts are generally safe, they can release fumes that could be harmful. This is particularly true for young children, who may not be able to refrain from tasting supplies, sticking contaminated hands in their mouths or rubbing their eyes. Petroleum-based paints and glues can be more poisonous than those that primarily contain water.

Households should research the origin of the products they buy and confirm that they are well-regulated and safe for use. Supplies produced overseas may have lower standards for VOCs and could also contain lead at harmful levels. Young children require constant adult supervision as they work with paint, modeling clay or glue. People may prefer to use water-based adhesives or foam made out of soy to lower the level of VOCs that can be off-gassed.

Pesticides

Using Pesticides Safely

Pesticides are often considered less volatile, but can still off-gas harmful VOCs. As a general rule, people tend to only use pesticides outside. This means that they will be released into the outdoor air and create less of a concern for indoor air quality. However, heavy use of pesticides can still contribute to smog. This is another reason people pay attention to VOC content in different materials, apart from immediate health effects to people and pets. Historically, DDT was one of the most commonly-used pesticides that is classified as a potential VOC. Currently, people may use products containing compounds like methyl bromide, chlordane, or phthalates.

The use of pesticides points to a vital distinction. There are many products on the market for home use that can be poisonous or harmful without being volatile or containing VOCs. Households should keep in mind that fumes aren't always the same as off-gassing VOCs, even though they often go hand in hand. This understanding will help people to know that they need to do additional research related to pesticides and herbicides, outside of their potential to release VOCs.

Reducing Exposure

Pesticides are often designed for either inside or outside use. This is important to distinguish, because something built for outdoor application could create a serious indoor air quality problem if used inside. Generally, households should evaluate how much they really need to use rodent or insect repellant to keep pests out. Physical barriers may be equally effective without requiring the use of noxious chemicals.

There are many organic pesticides or weed-killers that people can purchase. However, these may not necessarily be safe for use around pets or young children. People should plan to spray or apply repelling agents in a well-ventilated area. They should put on masks, goggles, and gloves to protect their skin. Some people might also need protective clothing as well, particularly for sprays. This will reduce the likelihood of contamination or accidentally ingesting some of the liquid.

Biological Sources

A significant amount of materials that contain VOCs are man-made and petroleum-based. Others can come directly from biological sources. These include:

  • smoke from fires, lit candles, or cigarettes
  • soil
  • pet dander
  • animal feces or manure
  • dust mites
  • mold

In many cases, these examples may be less likely to give off foul fumes or odors as an indicator of off-gassing. Manure from livestock on a home farm may be the exception. Methane, which drives primarily from cow manure, is one of the largest emitters of methane worldwide.

Evidence suggests that failure to clean properly may account for a rise in VOCs from seemingly organic or natural sources in the home. People who wash their clothes, bedding, and other textiles in cold or warm water are less likely to neutralize bacteria, mold, mildew, and other debris that contribute to VOCs off-gassing from these items. Studies show that using detergents free of perfumes may make it harder to get rid of accumulation of VOCs inside the materials. However, cleaning products with heavy perfumes may also contain their own set of VOCs.

Reducing Exposure

A sensible approach to cleaning is an ideal way to control VOCs from biological sources. Although many clothing items do not need to be washed nearly as frequently as most people believe, there are exceptions. For example, people who only wash their exercise clothing once a week or less often will notice an accumulation of odors and VOCs more quickly. Similarly, pet bedding needs to be washed and dried completely on a regular basis, particularly for animals that go outside or shed a lot of hair.

For maximum safety, people should wash exercise clothing and kitchen implements at a high temperature. This is much more likely to kill mold and mildew, which can release spores that may make people sick. Using low-VOC detergents with a high rate of efficacy can create a balance between practical cleaning without generating more fumes.

Enjoying Clean Air at Home

Pure Air at Home

Although the federal government sets specific regulations for VOCs in the outdoor environment and in industrial settings, there are limited rules for VOCs in the home environment. This is because oversight can be much more difficult. Manufacturers may be restricted by the amount of VOCs their products can emit at certain points in time. However, households are not bound by the number of VOC-emitting materials they have in a particular room, or in their homes in general.

As a result, people need to pay close attention to the products they buy, especially those intended for the use of people who may be at a higher risk for health effects. This includes new furniture, flooring, goods for the home, and even the building materials for new construction homes. People should keep in mind that VOCs will change over time. This means that exposure can become better, but it can also get worse. Lately, there has been a lot of construction in LA gated community homes, so this information may be of interest to you if you find yourself looking for a new home in that market. Households should research the common VOCs related to certain materials, and find out if someone in the home has more reason to be concerned. This information, combined with tips to cut down on exposure, will help make it easier to solve the problems that VOCs can sometimes create.

Helpful VOC Resources

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