You might be shocked to learn that the air in your Gurnee, IL home is two to five times more polluted than the outdoor air. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are one of the largest contributors to poor indoor air quality. Knowing about these compounds and their sources could help you reduce their levels, breathe easier, and protect your health.

What Volatile Organic Compounds Are

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals with low water solubility. They have a high vapor pressure. This means that they persist in the air, and they don’t get removed along with humidity. Because VOCs persist in the air, you breathe them into your lungs. Indoor air quality solutions, such as purifiers and filtration systems, can remove VOCs from your home’s air.

How VOCs Affect Your Health

If you’re exposed to a high level of VOCs for a short amount of time, you may feel dizzy or nauseated. You may develop a headache, shortness of breath, and irritation of your eyes, throat, and nose. Lower but frequent or even constant exposure to VOCs can result in worse asthma symptoms, chronic breathing problems, and an increase in your risk of heart and lung disease including certain kinds of cancer.

Sources of VOCs

Solid and liquid items emit VOCs. This process is called off-gassing. Most VOCs come from man-made sources. These include paints, adhesives, petroleum products, cleaners, pesticides, furniture, and building materials. Items you use every day, such as dry-cleaned clothing, permanent markers, and craft supplies are also sources of VOCs. New plastic items, including toys and dishes, off-gas VOCs. Cosmetics, degreasers, paint strippers, and varnishes release VOCs into your home’s air. Many items can be off-gassed before you bring them into your home. Improving ventilation, using air purifiers, and choosing VOC-free items are also good air quality solutions.

For more information about volatile organic compounds, take a look at Herchenbach Mechanical’s indoor air quality solutions, or contact us today.

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