Re­duce ex­po­sure to harm­ful VOCs at home

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate Weekly -

Volatile or­ganic com­pounds are emit­ted by a vast ar­ray of prod­ucts. The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency warns that VOCs con­sist of gases dis­charged from solids or liq­uids that pro­duce short- and long-term health ef­fects.

VOCs are par­tic­u­larly trou­bling be­cause their con­cen­tra­tions are con­sis­tently up to 10 times higher in­doors than out­doors. Those who spend time in­side of homes and busi­nesses may be at risk from con­cen­trated ex­po­sure to VOCs. No­table items that pro­duce VOCs in­clude treated woods, car­pet­ing, build­ing ma­te­ri­als, paints, waxes, fab­rics, and var­nishes. Since peo­ple are con­stantly breath­ing in air, and what­ever is cir­cu­lat­ing within it, it’s im­por­tant for in­di­vid­u­als to be con­scious of these com­mon of­fend­ers.

VOCs can be dan­ger­ous be­cause they may cause ev­ery­thing from mi­nor symp­toms of headaches, nau­sea and stuffy noses to more se­ri­ous con­di­tions like ner­vous sys­tem prob­lems and kid­ney and liver dam­age. Some VOCs are known to cause cancer in hu­mans, warns the EPA. To re­duce ex­po­sure to VOCs, home­own­ers are ad­vised to take the fol­low­ing steps.

• Read prod­uct la­bels care­fully for warn­ings against VOCs. When­ever pos­si­ble, select prod­ucts that do not emit VOCs.

• In­vest in al­ter­na­tive prod­ucts, such as all-nat­u­ral clean­ing so­lu­tions. Many peo­ple find that com­mon and safe items like vine­gar, cit­rus oils and bak­ing soda are as effective as chem­i­cal clean­ers without the same harm­ful side ef­fects.

• Use an air pu­ri­fier in con­junc­tion with HVAC sys­tems. Pur­chase an air pu­ri­fier that specif­i­cally fil­ters out odors and VOCs, which can help peo­ple with chem­i­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

• Rely on nat­u­ral ven­ti­la­tion when us­ing prod­ucts that have strong odors or are sus­pected of emit­ting VOCs. This can be as easy as open­ing win­dows and doors or do­ing work out­side. • Use a shed rather than an at­tached garage to store gas cans, pes­ti­cides, paint thin­ners, and other odor­if­er­ous ma­te­ri­als away from the home. Con­tact the mu­nic­i­pal waste de­part­ment to learn how to prop­erly dis­pose of left­over chem­i­cal prod­ucts.

• Re­think floor­ing ma­te­ri­als to in­clude car­pet­ing that is low VOC or alternatives such as wash­able rugs or hard floor­ing.

• Don’t for­get to fill a home with plenty of live plants. A study from re­searchers at NASA found that cer­tain in­door plants are effective at nat­u­rally pu­ri­fy­ing air.

• Ex­er­cise cau­tion with dry-cleaned clothes. Per­chloroethy­lene is a chem­i­cal most widely used in dry clean­ing. Air out dry-cleaned clothes be­fore wear­ing them, par­tic­u­larly if they have strong chem­i­cal odors.

Volatile or­ganic com­pounds can be ex­creted through var­i­ous items. In­di­vid­u­als who ed­u­cate them­selves can greatly re­duce their ex­po­sure to these harm­ful com­pounds.

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