Most people base the quality of the air they breathe on two factors; the way it smells and the way it looks. While these are good indicators of some air problems, they are not fail-proof. This is proven by the deadliness of natural gas, which has no odor unless it is added for safety purposes.
Definitely, a room filled with smoke is a good indicator of poor air quality indoors because you can see it and smell it, but there are many materials that emit gas vapors that attack us silently and without our knowledge.
This exposure can manifest itself in several ways. In the short-term, irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes is common. Continued exposure can produce vomiting, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Those with asthma will generally have worse conditions even with limited contact to poor air quality.
Long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to liver damage, damage to the central nervous system, kidney failure, and various forms of cancer.
Where Do We Find VOCs in Our Homes?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) consist of carbon-based chemicals, which will evaporate at room temperature. There are many more places where you will find VOCs than where you won’t. Because most of these compounds are almost invisible and often produce no smell, we should learn what products contain harmful VOCs so we can avoid them.
We are exposed to thousands of VOCs every day unless we live in clinical conditions. Some of the more common chemicals to avoid include benzene, formaldehyde, acetone, ethylene glycol, xylene, methylene chloride, toluene, and perchloroethylene.
Difficulty in Avoiding VOC Releasing Products
Avoiding products that release off-gas VOCs is much harder then you may realize. Paint, vinyl flooring, upholstery fabrics, sealing caulks, varnishes, sealants, solvents, and wood composites all release VOCs. These can be found anywhere in the home or office, and many of the products that we use on a daily basis also contaminate the air we breathe.
Gasoline, fuel oil, cosmetics, mothballs, air fresheners, deodorants, hairsprays, furniture polish, disinfecting chemicals, and even air cleaners that produce ozone add to poor air quality. Objects we come into contact with such as clothing that has been dry-cleaned, the daily newspaper, wood burning stoves, and photocopiers all put off VOCs.
Whenever we cook something, breathe in secondhand smoke, or even participate in an activity such as a hobby, we are subject to VOCs in the air.
It might seem futile to think about reducing VOCs because of the many products where they originate, but there are steps we can take to reduce those amounts to acceptable levels. One place to start is with a good room or home air purifier. A Blueair 501 review will reveal ways an air purifier can help maintain proper VOC levels.
Air quality varies a great deal from one home to another. Many of the items that emit VOCs do so more when they are new. New furniture has more off-gas of formaldehyde when it first comes from the production plant than after it has aged for a time. Another variable is how fast VOCs are released from an object.
Air filters and purifiers can be expensive to own and operate, but they provide protection for our lives and those of our families. Some indoor units require expensive filters that must be replaced on a regular basis, but the Rabbit air purifier has a washable filter that reduces the operating cost a great deal.
Consider the dangers if you do nothing about the quality of air in your home. You don’t want the place where you and your loved ones spend most of your time to be a death trap.