A typical American spends about 90% of their time indoors, explains the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, indoor air quality is usually two to five times worse than outdoor air. One particularly harmful type of indoor air pollution is volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Read on to learn about what they are, where they come from, how they affect your health, and what you can do about them in your Schaumburg, IL, home.

What Volatile Organic Compounds Are

VOCs are chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and low solubility in water. This means they’re usually a gas at room temperature, and they’re difficult to remove or dissolve in water. Most VOCs are man-made chemicals. Some examples include chloroform, which is a byproduct of chlorine used in water treatment, and formaldehyde, which is used in plastics, sealants, and formed wood products. According to the EPA, the concentration of VOCs can be 10 times higher indoors than outdoors.

Sources of Volatile Organic Compounds

Industrial solvents are a common source of VOCs outdoors. In your home, everyday items you use or store may release VOCs. Some examples include plastics, paints, adhesives, cleaning products, degreasers, pesticides, printer and toner cartridges, hobby products, and permanent markers. Pressed wood or particle board furniture, dry-cleaned clothing, and upholstery sealed with stain protection chemicals also release VOCs. Some cosmetics, perfumes, and air fresheners are sources of VOCs.

Health Impacts of Poor Indoor Air Quality

When you breathe volatile organic compounds into your lungs, your respiratory system becomes inflamed. Some of those particles get into your bloodstream. Short-term exposures can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, difficulty breathing, and irritation of your eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Long-term exposure may lead to cancer, lung, kidney, or heart disease. Whole-home ventilators and air purifiers are the best way to remove VOCs.

For more information about volatile organic compounds, take a look at Ray’s HVAC’s indoor air quality services, or get in touch with us today.

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