VOCs stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, which describes airborne chemicals. VOCs are both naturally occurring and manmade.
Why are VOCs important to monitor?
Harmful VOCs can cause health effects in both the short and long term. Health effects vary from minor eye, nose and throat irritations to more serious ailments, depending on the level of exposure to a particular chemical. It is important also to note that VOC sensors also simply detect chemicals associated with human or animal presence. So although some VOCs are not always bad for your health, they are important to monitor if consistently high and to experiment with ventilation.
Where do VOCs come from?
They come from an array of everyday items including paints and varnishes, wax and cosmetics, cleaning and hobby products, and even cooking. When you have an enclosed space like a home or office, these emitted gases accumulate and can pollute our fresh air. VOCs are actually also produced by humans, and it is useful to monitor total VOC levels in rooms to see when it's a good time to ventilate or identify potential sources.
Lessen sources of VOCs
Store all known toxic products like paint, varnishes, heavy cleaning supplies, etc. separate from your home in a shed or garage. Avoid buying VOC products in bulk and try to reduce the amount of products you purchase that contain VOCs. Try to purchase environmentally friendly products with lower levels or no VOCs.
Strong odors in new or recently renovated indoor environments are often due to off-gassing from new building materials, finishes, and furnishings. VOCs may come from treated or engineered wood products, carpets, flooring, cabinets, paints, stains, varnishes, caulking, adhesives and many other materials.
Typically, VOC levels in the indoor air will decrease over time, but just how long it will take depends on a number of factors. It’s also important to know that VOCs can be reintroduced into the indoor environment from the use of some common materials, including cleaning supplies, air fresheners, pesticides and aerosol sprays.