Volatile Organic Compounds in Your Home


One downside to home repair projects and remodeling to increase the value of your home is the different levels of danger in the projects. One danger includes the presence of fumes and toxins emitted from the necessary equipment and products used during a repair project. There is a common form of toxins called volatile organic compounds.

You might not be aware of the number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home. There are over 10,000 types of VOCs and there are many that are common in products you use in your home.

VOCs are organic compounds that transform into vapors or gases. VOCs contain carbon, fluorine, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen and other elements. VOCs are often toxic and pollute the air outdoors or in your home.

The most common VOCs are gasoline, benzene, toluene, xylene, styrene and formaldehyde.

Long-term exposure to VOCs in the air in your home can cause kidney damage or liver damage. Short-term exposure can cause eye irritation, headaches and stomach pains.

You will often find a high number of VOCs in products related to home repair and design. VOCs are found in paint thinners and lacquers and other building materials. You will also find a high level of VOCs in new carpet from manufacturer stain guards and other elements. You can remove VOCs in carpet with professional carpet cleaning. Learn more here.

The VOCs will escape off of these home repair products, new carpet and cleaning products and into the air. This emission process is called off-gassing and it is how VOCs contaminate the air in your home.

The off-gassing process is its most potent immediately after the installation of new carpet or building materials or after first opening a can or gallon of a cleaning product. The off-gassing process varies depending on the temperature in your home and the element. The time range for off-gassing to end is between two to eight weeks.

This means you should practice proper ventilation in your home if you are using products known to contain a high level of VOCs.

You should open the doors and windows in your home for continued circulation. We also recommend that you run ceiling fans and floor fans if you are painting a room in your home or having carpet installed. You can also install a HEPA air filter to trap VOCs and prevent them from returning to the air you and your family breathe in.

If possible, avoid cleaning products all together. There are several all-natural alternatives or DIY solutions that are safe for your home and do not contain toxins or VOCs. Look for Green Guard and Green Seal products as alternatives to products that contain VOCs.

Now that you are aware of the presence of VOCs in home repair materials and products and their impact on the air in your home, you can practice safety measures to reduce your exposure to volatile organic compounds.