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Volatile Organic Compounds

You may or may not be aware but Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are airborne pollutants found lurking in the air inside our homes. As the word ‘Volatile’ indicates, these airborne pollutants do not contribute to the health of the household, in fact they can play havoc with your health. VOCs are irritants which affect some people more than others, they can cause allergic reactions, headaches, tiredness, respiratory problems and other illnesses.

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It is hard to believe that our homes suffer from indoor pollutants. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) stated that there could be up to 900 chemicals lurking inside the air in our homes. In fact, according to the Environment Protection Agency, the air inside our homes could actually be up to 70% more polluted than the air outside!

 

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How do VOC's get into your home?

Many of the products that we use to clean our homes along with, ironically, some of the aerosol sprays that we use to make them smell fresh contain VOCs. And, to make things worse, new furniture releases a VOC called formaldehyde, which can really get up your nose! Classed as a more harmful pollutant, formaldehyde can irritate your mucus membrane and make you feel uncomfortable and irritated. VOC’s can also cause allergic reactions such as skin rashes, sore throats and irritated eyes.

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Oddly enough, the more we clean, the more we risk exposure to VOCs and one sure way to help combat this is with good ventilation. Apart from ridding your home of condensation and mould problems, good ventilation will reduce the concentration of VOCs.

Not only do VOCs cause negative side effects, long term exposure could be detrimental to your human health attacking your central nervous system causing damage to your liver and kidneys and can even cause cancer.

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Consumer Products Which Can Contain VOCs:

  • Aerosols
  • Cleaning Products
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Dry Cleaning 
  • Automotive Products
  • Hobby Supplies
  • Candles - That's right even our beloved scented candles can release high amounts of VOCs which exceed safety limits and they don't even need to be lit! 
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It's not only the indoor air quality of our homes being affected by VOCs, workplaces can also be high risk. Jobs that involve working with building materials, graphic and creative products such as glues, adhesives and photographic solutions. Additionally office workers are at risk with exposure to equipment such as copiers, printers, inks and carbonless paper which can cause a condition known as sick building syndrome that causes headaches and respiratory due to poor ventilation.

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Indoor and outdoor atmospheres can both contain high levels of pollutants which have serious health effects. Outside we are exposed to pollutants such as nitrogen oxide pollution which is emitted from vehicle exhaust, and the burning of coal, oil, diesel fuel, and natural gas, especially from electric power plants. 

We're aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide however, VOC emissions can be just as dangerous to our health. We assume sweet smelling candles and fresh smelling cleaning products must be good for our homes and ourselves, but in fact they can be damaging our health. Proper ventilation helps to combat these levels of VOC's by maintaining a constant movement of fresh air. 

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Public Health England published findings in September of 2019 in order to propose indoor air quality guidelines for individual VOCs in the UK. The starting point was the
2010 WHO IAQ guidelines and our objective was to investigate if the proposed individual VOCs and their limit values are still appropriate for use and if new compounds should be considered based on the recent scientific evidence about their toxicity and presence in buildings. 

Hopefully with this recent studies clearer and more concise guidelines will be published for England with regards to the dangers of VOC's. 

Dangers of VOC's

Unsure what the quality of the air is in your home? 

We offer an indoor air quality test that is especially helpful if you suspect you may already have a problem in your home. The test is very thorough and looks for:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
  • Humidity
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC)

EnviroVent have a wide range of innovative ventilation solutions which fight air pollution, reduce humidity, banish black mould, prevent condensation on windows and dilute VOCs reducing your exposure to them.

The units work by delivering fresh, filtered and clean air into the property, gently ventilating it, leaving you with a fresh and healthy indoor environment all year round. They are quick and easy to install, no redecoration should be required.

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