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Understanding How Household Products Affect Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality in Asheville, NC

Volatile organic compounds, better known as VOCs, are one of the most significant indoor pollutants. These invisible gasses cause a variety of short- and long-term health effects ranging from eye irritation to cancer, and they’re often released by household cleaning products, air fresheners, and cosmetics. Here’s what you need to know about these dangerous pollutants and how they affect indoor air quality.

Types of Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds are a class of gaseous chemicals released from liquids and solids, such as perfume and treated wood. They can be natural or manmade. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor concentrations of these chemicals are two to five times higher compared to outdoor samples on average. These are some of the most common VOCs.

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Acetone
  • Benzene
  • Ethanol
  • Dichlorobenzene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Toluene
  • Styrene
  • Xylene

Household Products That Affect Your Indoor Air Quality

Many VOCs have a strong chemical odor, but they are also used in air fresheners and deodorizers. From kitchen cleansers to plug-in air fresheners, the following household products are some of the most common sources of volatile organic compounds.

  • Air fresheners
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Adhesives and craft glues
  • Cleaning products
  • Cosmetics
  • Dry cleaned clothing
  • Landscape chemicals
  • Paints and solvents
  • Perfumes

Ways to Control VOCs at Home

Chemical exposure can cause headaches, eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, and a variety of respiratory symptoms. The best way to control volatile organic compounds is by limiting the use of harsh solvents and fragrances. When cleaning or using chemicals, ventilate the area. Follow all manufacturer recommendations and avoid mixing products unless specifically directed by the label. Additionally, public health agencies recommend disposing of containers that may release gases during storage.

If you’re looking for a permanent way to reduce your chemical exposure, a whole-home ventilator can help. These systems exhaust airborne pollutants and pull in fresh outdoor air while balancing the temperature. Our indoor air quality experts can help assess your home and provide personalized recommendations. Call Mountain Air Mechanical Contractors today to learn more or to request an estimate.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency