There is a lot of talk about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the world of indoor air quality. The EPA has long regarded them as a danger to human health. But you might be wondering if your household is at risk. Common VOCs include paint, cigarette smoke and dry cleaning particles, and if you avoid activities like that, can you simply stay safe?
Unfortunately, the reality isn’t that simple.
Surprising Sources of VOCs
Unfortunately, VOCs really are all around our homes, and they occur in some unexpected places.
- Candles – This one is disappointing, because who doesn’t enjoy lighting candles after cleaning and feeling fresh? Sadly, most candles aren’t really that “fresh,” and burning them emits VOCs. Candle usage in enclosed areas has actually been suspected to increase the risk of cancer — yikes. Paraffin seems to be the leading culprit, so using beeswax or soy candles will put you at a lower risk.
- Dryer Sheets & Other Scented Products – You probably know that harsh chemical sprays aren’t good for you, but even seemingly innocent products such as dryer sheets and dish detergents can contain VOCs. Some of the ingredients in these everyday products have already been classified as toxic or harmful to humans by federal laws.
- Printers – Do you print from your home computer? If so, you are probably unknowingly hurting your indoor air quality, with toners and inks being the main sources of harm. Studies around this topic focus on office usage, which is found to significantly contribute to VOC concentration in the indoor environment. However, it isn’t a stretch to say heavy printing in your home is likely to reach harmful levels as well.
- Stored Fuel – It obviously isn’t healthy to inhale emissions from any stored fuel you may have in your garage. But did you know this is actually a leading source of benzyne, a known human carcinogen? Along with paint, auto emissions and tobacco smoke, benzyne can have a significant presence in your garage.
So are VOCs a real danger to your health? The answer is yes; with sustained VOC exposure, your health could suffer.
Unfortunately, you would be hard pressed to find a home that didn’t have any of the VOC-emitting items we listed. Not to mention, what we have mentioned here only just scratches the surface of the issue.
If VOCs are Everywhere, What Can You Do?
Maybe you could go without candles. Or you could cut down on air freshener usage. But can you really research every harmful chemical on every product label and check that every single item you use in your home is free of VOCs? It just isn’t plausible.
This is why so many people opt to treat their air rather than go to extreme lengths to prevent the issue from happening. It is almost impossible to keep VOCs out of your home, but there are proven ways to eliminate them from your indoor air once they are released.
For more information on how you can remove VOCs from your home’s air, check out Stage 5 of our complete indoor air quality system. Call Breathe Easy Air at 239-848-6533 to get started on your clean air goals.