With the time people spend inside only increasing, we need to be confident that the air we breathe, whether at home, work or school, is safe. One group of pollutants that should be monitored are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a diverse group of indoor pollutants that all have similar chemical properties. Benzene, Formaldehyde and Ethylene Glycol are just a few examples.
Due to the large number of VOCs, they are hard to continuously monitor, so a measurement, total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), has been adopted to measure the overall VOCs in any given area.
Most VOCs come from everyday household objects
Paints and Solvents
New Furniture and Carpets
Cleaners and Disinfectants
Whilst some VOCs, such as those produced by plants, aren’t that dangerous, others including benzene and formaldehyde can be very harmful as they are human carcinogens. Hazardous VOCs tend to come from glues, paints, new furniture, cleaning products and cigarettes.
Long-term exposure to VOCs can be very damaging to our health, so as well as monitoring the air quality, it is also important to recognise the symptoms which can include:
Headaches and nausea
Eye, nose, and throat irritation
Allergic skin reaction
So what can we do to protect ourselves against VOCs?
Don’t smoke inside (second hand smoke is still harmful)
Only use household products as directed because storing them incorrectly or not using them properly can be dangerous
Purchase low VOC versions of products