An Rx for VOC ProblemsPosted on: February 15, 2014
Posted by: Sebring Home Improvement
Learn how to lessen the effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home.
In recent years, the media has helped the public become aware of "sick buildings", usually office buildings that seem to cause illness in an unusually high number of the people who work in them. Among the substances that can cause the "sickness" are volatile organic compounds, usually called VOCs.
Found in pressed wood products, adhesives, carpeting and certain finishes, VOCs also can cause serious health problems for homeowners who are particularly sensitive to such substances. Even if you've never had a client low-VOC products, you should be aware of how using them can help your customers and the environment.
Indoor air quality has become more of a concern as more houses become almost airtight to conserve energy. In fact, Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies by the Environmental Protection Agency have found levels for some dozen common organic pollutants to be two to five times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas.
These pollutants come from both building materials and household products in the home: paints, varnishes, sealants and adhesives all contain organic solvents. So do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Home heating fuels such as natural gas and oil are also made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while people are using them, and to some degree, when they are stored.
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly. The range goes from those that are highly toxic to those with no known health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effects will depend on many factors, including level of exposure and length of time exposed.
Eye and respiratory-tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. The EPA website states, "At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals. Some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause cancer in humans."
Fortunately, a great deal of information is also around us. The U.S. Consumer Production Safety Commission collects data on VOCs in household products, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides extensive data on organic compounds, including advice on how to minimize VOC problems during remodeling.
Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality:Resist the urge to fling open your windows.
Inspect your insulation, rafters and floor joists.
Seal your building envelope.
Purchase a true HEPA cleaner.
Give your whole house a thorough cleaning.
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