Have you ever wondered why pregnant women aren’t supposed to help paint the new baby’s nursery? It’s because, until very recently, all paints had volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them. These VOCs can cause a variety of adverse short-term and long-term side effects. In the short term, exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Low-level exposure over a long period of time can increase the risk of liver and kidney damage, damage to the central nervous system, and several types of cancer.Understanding the sources of VOCs, in addition to paint, is the first step in reducing the health risks of exposure. Several building materials release VOCs over a period of time. These include carpet and carpet adhesive, composite wood, caulk, solvents, upholstery fabric, vinyl floors and furniture. Other home-care products that we use to sanitize our homes actually can be bad for our health. Cleaners that include VOCs include air fresheners, air cleaners that produce ozone, cleaning chemicals, gasoline, moth balls and even cosmetics.
There are two things that you can do to reduce the concentration of off-gassed VOCs in your home. The first way is to limit the amount of products that you bring into your home that have the potential to off-gas. If you’re planning to purchase furniture, buy floor models that have had a chance to off-gas in the showroom. Also consider buying solid wood items with natural finishes, and always look for no- or low-VOC products when you can.
To combat the volatile organic compounds that are already in your home, increasing the amount of ventilation and keeping the humidity down will do the trick. Open your windows and pull fresh air in with the help of fans. The VOC content outside of your home can be as much as two to five times less than that inside.
If you would like to learn more about controlling the levels of volatile organic compounds in your home, please contact us at Overland Park Heating & Cooling. We’ve been improving indoor air quality in the greater Kansas City area since 1983.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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