You can’t see them, but they’re all around us. They aren’t listed as ingredients on the objects we bring in our home, but they’re often there. They’re volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, a wide range of carbon-based molecules (organic compounds) used in a wide range of products that find their way into our homes.
Under normal conditions, they vaporize, effectively leaving their host and entering the air (that’s the “volatile” part) where they combine with other airborne compounds to form a potentially harmful mixture of chemicals, which isn’t good to breathe.
Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are harmful chemicals emitted by many of the products and materials we have in our homes. VOCs are chemicals that are dispersed as gases from solids or liquids that evaporate into the air at room temperature. Concentrations of these chemicals can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. Thousands of products emit these gases while in use or even when stored. Many of these products are used or being exposed on a daily basis. It is also known that most VOCs cannot be detected by smell.
The risk of health effects from inhaling any chemical depends on how much is in the air, how long and how often a person breathes it in. Breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems. Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse in people who have asthma or are particularly sensitive to chemicals. These are much different exposures than occupational exposures to VOCs.
At the present time, there are no national or state standards that are specific for school, office, or home settings. In addition, there are many opinions in the science and medical communities about the degree of risk posed by various amounts of VOCs.
Although much research needs to be performed to establish acceptable exposure levels to mixtures of VOCs that may be present in homes, schools, offices, and commercial buildings; recent European research has provided a good starting point, and provides a basis for the IAQ Index.
In general, the research has found that exposures to typical mixtures of VOCs below 1.0 ppm (1,000 ppb) should not result in health effects or significant occupant complaints, exposures in the range of 1 to 10 ppm should be expected to produce some health effects and complaints, and exposures above 10 ppm may produce more serious health effects.
The one thing that is for sure is that if you are having problems with your health while you are in your home, runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches, coughing, etc. It may be a good idea to have your home or business tested for VOC’s
Call us today. EcoVive provides indoor air quality testing. 616-401-9176