How polluted is the air inside your home? If you aren’t paying attention to the types of products you and your family use, the answer may shock you. From paint to cleaning supplies and furniture, your buying habits may be negatively affecting the air quality in your home with VOCs (volatile organic compounds). What are VOCs (volatile organic compounds)? VOCs are the carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. They are released from thousands of products, and include a wide variety of chemicals such as acetone, benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, toluene, and many more. The amount of VOCs in the air of a typical home is two to five times higher than in the air outside. When using products containing these organic chemicals, the concentration can be even higher as these pollutants remain in the air long after activities are finished. VOCs can cause cancer, liver or kidney damage, and central nervous system damage. Limiting your exposure is essential to your health. Want to lower VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your home?
- Use homemade, not chemical cleaning products. Conventional cleaning products (household cleaners, laundry/dish detergent, shampoo, and more) contain powerful chemicals toxic to the skin and lungs. Make your own nontoxic household cleaners using common items such as vinegar and baking soda, or look for greener, nontoxic options available at most stores.
- Use “wet-cleaning,” not dry cleaning. Perchloroethylene (PERC), a common dry-cleaning solvent, is a potential carcinogen. Opt for PERC-free “wet-cleaning” instead – offered by many professional cleaners. Some items may even be cleaned at home with mild soap and aired dry. If you must dry clean, allow items to off-gas 4-5 days before bringing them into your home.
- Use baiting and trapping for pests, not pesticides. Whether inside or outside your home, avoid the use of chemical pesticides. Opt for baits and traps instead. Better yet – seal off any points where pests could enter your home.
- Purchase solid wood furnishings, not pressed wood and particle board. Pressed wood and particle board products contain urea-formaldehyde, a known irritant, allergen, and carcinogen that emits VOCs over a prolonged period of time. Solid wood products are safer, and often last longer as well.
- Install hard surface flooring, not wall-to-wall carpeting. Some types of carpeting contain high levels of VOCs, and all carpeting can trap contaminants, absorb water, and harbor mold. Where possible, especially in high-moisture areas like the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and basement, install hard surface flooring. If you must have a rug, choose washable area rugs.
- Use essential oils, not air fresheners or perfumes. Air fresheners cause the buildup of potentially harmful VOCs in your home. If your home is smelly, remove the offending item or air it out naturally. If you must use scents, opt for 100 percent pure essential oils. Essential oils may also be used for perfumes or added to homemade cleaning supplies. Be certain to research your options however, as some oils can irritate your skin or effect hard surfaces.
Concerned about how VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are effecting the air quality in your home? Contact Aire Serv® today and learn about indoor air quality solutions that can protect the health of you and your family.