Have you ever noticed a new smell when entering your home? A new book, new candle, new rug, smell of a freshly painted room? These pungent smells are a sign the VOC odors are off gassing in the home creating the smells whether people know it or not.
A VOC, or Volatile Organic Compound, is an organic chemical that has a high vapor pressure at room temperature causing it to evaporate quickly and spread the samples molecules rapidly through the air. While not all VOCs are harmful, it is best practice to reduce the number of them in your home anyway. Symptoms of exposure to VOCs can range from a headache or itchy eyes to in some cases cancer.
I will share the 7 most common sources of VOCs found in the home, as well as how to effectively remove them for increased health and wellbeing.
Paint, Primers, and Thinners – Picking the Least Harmful
As many people are familiar with the pungent smell of paint, it is one of the most common sources of VOC in a home whether it is wet or dry. A suggestion to help solve this issue would be to purchase VOC-free paints from the store. Another would be to improve the ventilation while painting. This could be by having a window open and wearing a respirator to protect yourself. We can also help you choose paint brands that are safe for you and others within your home.
Flooring and Carpeting – Facing the Facts
Unlike paint, which quickly decreases in VOC emissions after it dries, off-gassing can increase with age. Flooring and carpet are said to release VOCs over time from routine wear and tear to the products, and from the buildup of collected molecules within the products. Tips to help this would be routine cleanings of flooring and deep cleaning carpeting, as well as allowing proper ventilation into and out of your home.
Mattresses – Making the Best Decision Possible
Mattresses can be harmful in a couple different ways. One being that anything made with polyurethane foam is a substantial VOC risk. The second is that porous surfaces, like mattresses, can attract and retain VOCs from other places in the home. Deep cleanings of your mattresses can help prevent harm to your health. Choosing less harmful foam and letting it off-gas outdoors for a week or more before sleeping on it indoors are also effective ways to protect yourself from VOCs.
Wood Materials – Knowing What to Avoid
Nearly all types of wood furniture have some level of VOCs. Whether from the manufactured type of wood used, such as particle board, the stains or varnishes used to finish, or coatings applied during manufacturing. Opting for unfinished wood or older pieces that are less likely to off-gas are great ways to lower the number of VOCs in your home.
Plastics – Picking Your Battles
Although plastics are prevalent in our daily lives and cannot be completely avoided, they should be reduced. Not all plastics are created equal, but plastics are yet another common material that give off VOCs. Glass storage containers instead of plastic, recyclable aluminum bottles, and natural wood toys instead of plastic are some great ways to start reducing plastics and VOC emissions in your home.
Fabrics – Fusing Style and Safety
Some upholstery fabrics are coated with preservatives to prevent staining and to prolong the life of the piece. As many people may not know, the preservatives used off-gas. To rid this of happening in your home consider reupholstering with newer materials that are VOC-free. Other suggestions include regulating the humidity and airflow in the given room with the fabric.
Cleaning Products – Choosing Wisely
There is a plentiful amount of household cleaners and laundry detergents on the market contain several hazardous VOCs. Natural cleaners are a great alternative to this wherever possible. These can include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and water. Also, natural detergents for clothes that touch our skin or the fabrics that we wash and keep in our home are safe and effective ways to help eliminate VOCs.
I encourage you to think about the VOC emissions that occur in your home and begin to take the steps to reduce them. This will help to ensure a happier and healthier environment for you and your families for years to come.
Want some help reducing VOCs in your home while redecorating? Reach out to us! We’re here for you.
P.S. Here are some related blog archives you might enjoy!