What Are VOC’s And Are VOC Emissions Dangerous?
VOC’s, more commonly known as Volatile Organic Compounds, are essentially chemicals that are found in living things, but more commonly found in and around households. They contain gases including nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, fluorine, chlorine, bromine and sulfur. These can easily vaporise in the air which can make them dangerous to human health. As we’re well exposed to VOC emissions in everyday life, it’s important to understand the health issues that are concerned with VOC’s, how they are formed and ways you can help to reduce the risk of being exposed to them.
Are VOC’s Dangerous?
Due to the chemicals that consist within VOC’s, they can be extremely harmful to health. However, the health effects of VOC’s is dependent on the concentration and how long you can be exposed to the chemicals. For example, those who suffer from asthma may be more sensitive to the effects compared to someone without.
Symptoms of being exposed to the chemicals include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath leading to fatigue and nausea. Large exposure to the chemicals is suspected to also lead to cancer in humans.
Where Can VOC’s Be Found?
The reason why VOC emissions are most commonly released around the house is that of the sources in which they come from. Personal products such as cleaning fluid, hair spray, perfume and paint are the main sources for VOC emissions released around the house. They can also arise from other sources such as burning fuels like gas and wood and particular tobacco products. Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that has a bitter smell and is one of the most common VOC’s which is normally found in items such as plywood and glues.
How Can Exposure To VOC’s Be Reduced?
The nature of VOC’s means that they are hard to avoid but there are ways you can help to avoid large exposure to VOC’s and some of these are listed below:
- Select building products that are labelled as containing low VOC’s. Some products tend to give off more VOC’s than others.
- When purchasing paint, make sure that it’s stored correctly and safely, preferably outside the home in the shed or other forms of a storage unit.
- Minimise the use of scented products and aerosols in and around the house. This can be anything from hair sprays to scented candles.
- Increase ventilation in your home by regularly opening windows and allowing fresh air in
- When installing new carpets, make sure that the area is well ventilated and aim to prevent VOC emission build up
- Remove finished bottles and containers that have products containing VOC’s from your home, ensuring that they are disposed of correctly.
If you find that you regularly use these kinds of products around the house it’s likely you’re being exposed to high levels of VOC emissions. This can lead to future health problems so it’s important that you can reduce your exposure in any way possible.