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What are VOC’s?

  • Apr 10, 2022
  • 80

The Invisible Enemy In Your Home

Every home has it. It’s not dust. It’s not dirt. It’s much more sinister than that. This invisible enemy is the culprit behind many common sicknesses and is hard to defeat. It is known as VOCs. This short, simple, innocent-sounding acronym stands for Volatile Organic Compound. That doesn’t sound so innocent anymore, does it?

According to the EPA volatile organic compounds come from gases normally found in the home, other chemicals and cleaners, as well as fumes from paints or even seemingly harmless items like printers, copiers, adhesives, carbonless paper, or markers. Look around you, these things are everywhere in most homes, and they could be contributing to serious air quality problems.

The problem with these compounds is that you can’t really see “them.” You can see the copier, the paper, the glue and paint, the chemicals and stoves, but you can’t see the emissions. They are so small it is impossible to detect them with the naked eye, but they’re there, and they can be deadly.

What You Need To Know About Volatile Organic Compounds

They are the leading contributors to what is known as “sick building syndrome.” People exposed to V.O.Cs often experience headaches, unusual fatigue, nausea, difficulty concentrating, dry coughs and itchy skin, but these are not the worst problems that “sick air” creates. Other issues caused by bad air quality caused by volatile compounds in the air are fever, chills and muscle aches.

Most of the time the sick feeling caused by these floating compounds goes away when you leave the building, but when you live in the building—you're home, you don’t want to have to leave to feel good. Some problems are much more serious, and won’t go away, even when you do leave.

Copy machines and chemicals found around the home like pesticides or cleaning supplies can emit seriously dangerous compounds that include formaldehyde, and other dangers known to be carcinogenic. The higher the level of these invisible enemies is in your home, the more likely you are to experience acute or chronic illnesses associated with them.

The particles emitted from common home fixtures such as fireplaces and even gas space heaters can even produce combustible compounds like carbon monoxide.

Not Just Chemical

Sickness from bad air in the home is also caused by a different form of VOC. This compound is not chemical, but rather bacterial. Stagnant water from humidifiers, moisture in air ducts, or damp carpets, insulation or tiles is a breeding ground for bacteria, as well as another serious health hazard—mold.

Between the gases, chemicals, molds and bacteria volatile organic compounds are responsible for medical conditions including:

  • Cancer
  • Central nervous system tremors
  • Depression
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Edema
  • Nosebleeds
  • Pregnancy problems and miscarriages

If this article has scared you, that’s good! You need to know what you are dealing with before you can fight the war going on unseen in your home. There’s hope though. There are things you can do to fight back and win.

How To Create Better Air For Your Family

First of all, never keep dangerous chemicals in the house, or an attached garage. Keep all gasoline, kerosene, paint, and pesticides outside in a separate shelter. This alone will not keep out the chemicals and bacteria that cause problems with air quality, however.

Plants are another way to give your home better air quality. While almost any plant helps the air in your home, some are better at getting rid of noxious gases and carbon monoxide than others. Peace lilies, Gerbera Daisies, and bamboo palms are known to have excellent abilities in combating things like paint fumes, and noxious odors from paints, inks, and sprays.

The best thing you can do for the air quality in your home is to purchase a high-quality air purifier. A good air purifier will get rid of over 99% of the compounds that cause sickness and allergies. They are easy to care for and won’t die on you the way a plant is likely to if you forget to water it, or water it too much.


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Thomas Keller By, Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.
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