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Volatile Organic Compounds: Are They Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

Most homes, especially those that are newer or have been recently improved, have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can have a serious affect on your health. VOCs contain gases that can irritate the respiratory tract, cause skin problems and even serious illness. The products that release VOCs are in common household products, like cleaning supplies, dry cleaning, paint, new carpeting and fabrics used for furniture, the wood used to make it, and drapes.

New homes tend to have fewer air leaks that can concentrate VOCs, lowering the indoor air quality (IAQ) for everyone. Some of the health problems VOCs cause can take years to develop, like central nervous system issues and liver and kidney damage.

Lowering the indoor levels involves several strategies. The first is to reduce the amount of VOCs you use and bring home. Look for labels on products that indicate that the product has few volatile organic compounds. Many alternatives are available for paint, carpeting, furniture and even dry cleaning. Switching to as many natural household cleaners also helps. Substituting vinegar or hydrogen peroxide for home sanitation works in many situations, and keeping your home dust-free will remove the VOCs that accumulate in the dust.

The second way is to use home ventilation systems to exchange contaminated indoor air with fresh air. This approach works when you can open the windows for ventilation, or you can install an energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator to bring clean air indoors. These systems offer solid energy efficiency because they use a technology that exchanges the energy in the conditioned air leaving with the fresh air coming in.

You can also benefit from a low tech and more aesthetically pleasing approach by using some types of houseplants that actually remove VOCs from your home’s air. NASA found that the peace lily and spider plant will remove a variety of pollutants, as well as a number of other species of house plants.

To learn more about minimizing volatile organic compounds in your Alexandria area home, contact HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited Heating & Air Conditioning today.

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