VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Generally VOCs are man made chemicals that are produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals and refrigerants. They have high vapor pressure and don’t dissolve easily in water. VOCs are ground water contaminants that are emitted as gases from solids or liquids.
VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which can affect your health. Concentrations of these VOCs are higher indoors than outdoors, often up to ten times higher. Tests run by the EPA found levels of many organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher in homes than outside. These tests also revealed that people using products that contain organic chemicals can be exposed to high pollutant levels.
How Do VOCs Get Into The Air?
A few examples of products that emit these VOCs or air polluting chemicals are:
- paints and varnishes
- cleaning and disinfecting agents
- cosmetic products
- degreasing agents
- hobby products
What Are Health Effects of VOCs?
As with all pollutants, the extent of the health effects produced by VOCs will depend upon the level and length of exposure. All of the symptoms and others not listed here can lead to more serious health issues. Some immediate symptoms that may be experienced are:
- Eye Irritation
- Respiratory Tract Irritation
- Problems with eyesight
- Memory impairment
How Can You Reduce Exposure And Its Effects?
Some ways of reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals in the atmosphere of your home are:
Always keep your house well ventilated, and when using products that release pollutants be sure to have fresh air around you.
Read labels on products that may emit VOCs carefully and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding their use, clean-up and storage.
Keep these items out of reach of children and pets.
Do a bit of research when embarking upon a project that requires the use of any of the products listed above. The EPA website is very helpful in this pursuit.
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