VOCs: What Are They?

If you’re purchasing your first air purifier, it may be because you are worried about the air quality of your surrounding environment. This is why it is important to speak about VOCs. What are they?

VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility.

Alas, many volatile organic compounds are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in several manufacturing sectors such as paints, pharmaceuticals, or refrigerants. 

VOCs are usually industrial solvents such as trichloroethylene; fuel oxygenates, such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); or by-products produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform.

They can also be components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry cleaning agents. VOCs are common ground-water contaminants.

VOCs: What Are They

Read: How Much Electricity Does An Air Purifier Use?

Read: How Does An Air Purifier Work?


Are VOCs Harmful?

Yes, VOCs are potentially dangerous to humans because they can cause significant health issues in both the short and long term.

Short-Term Health Issues Caused By VOCs

Possible symptoms related to VOCs include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Wheezing or restricted breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Emesis
  • Epistaxis or nosebleed (formaldehyde)
  • Visual disorders
  • Eye infection
  • Respiratory tract infection and irritation
  • Memory loss

Long-Term Health Issues Caused By VOCs

VOCs can even cause long-term health issues, and they could become serious. The most common issues include:

  • Asthma
  • Allergic skin reaction (sometimes lasting until the contaminant is removed)
  • Hearing loss
  • Tremor, lack of coordination (heavy metals like airborne lead and mercury vapor), muscle cramps
  • Seizures/loss of consciousness
  • Chronic learning deficits
  • Hyperactivity
  • Reduced attention span
  • Intermittent fever
  • Personality change
  • Neurological dysfunction
  • Lung cancer

Read: How Long Should I Run My Air Purifier?


How Can We Fight VOCs?

First of all, we can all become more aware consumers and start purchasing only the products that don’t make the problem worse.

Second, we could use an air purifier. Of course, an air purifier wouldn’t ensure that we breathe clean air all the time, but we could put one of these devices in the places where we spend the majority of our time during the day. It could be the house, our bedroom, but it could be the office too.

Read: Where To Place The Air Purifier?


Other Ways Of Reducing VOCs In Your House

Other than purchasing an air purifier, you could also adopt some behaviors such as:

  • Improve ventilation. One of the biggest things you can do to reduce the amount of VOCs is to improve the ventilation in your home, especially when you are using products known to contain VOCs. Improving ventilation won’t just help your home feel comfier, but letting fresh air flow indoors will improve your overall indoor air quality.
  • Check for formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is one of the most prevalent VOCs in homes, but fortunately, it is also one of the most measurable. We recommend regularly monitoring formaldehyde levels and, if possible, locate the source of the pollution.
  • Keep products containing VOCs outdoors. If you have VOC-containing products stored in your home, try relocating these products to an outdoor storage area.
  • Avoid mixing household products. Unless stated on the label that it is safe, mixing household products can create even higher levels of VOCs in your home.

Read: What Is Micron & Why Is It Important For Air Quality?


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