What are VOCs and How Do They Impact You?

Volatile Organic Compounds are one of the more significant concerns in air quality, but many people don’t even know about them. Learn more about VOCs and how to remove them.

By now, we all know that clean air is important for your overall health and well-being. Plus, clean air is just nice! Who doesn’t like a clean-smelling home and that “fresh air” feeling? 

Air quality is impacted by many things, such as allergens like pollen and pet dander, mold, dust, mildew, and more. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are also present. These are gases or particles that come from a vast range of common sources like cleaning products, fragrances, and paint, among many other items. The good news is that even while using products that release VOCs, you can remove them for optimal air quality. 

What Exactly are VOCs?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs are toxic chemicals often emitted as gas from solids or liquids. Some of these may have short and long-term adverse health effects. Unfortunately, VOCs are a common ingredient in many everyday products and materials. That makes them one of the hardest air quality elements to avoid. At the same time, some of them pose serious risks which make them particularly troublesome. 

You are exposed to VOCs when you pump gas, have your clothes dry-cleaned, use chlorine bleach to clean, and many other daily activities. You’d probably be surprised at the places VOCs can come from - from wood-burning fires to household cleaners, aerosol sprays, and hobby supplies. If you smell a strong chemical scent when using a product, chances are that VOCs are present. That’s particularly true with new furniture, carpet, and electronics, which release VOCs in a process called “off-gassing”.

How do VOCs Affect Your Health?

In some cases, VOCs can be extremely dangerous. They aren’t always toxic though -  they can just be a nuisance. Regardless, you should take precautions to avoid them whenever possible. 

In terms of your health, many VOCs can lead to serious problems, particularly over time with extended exposure. According to the American Lung Association, VOCs are “harmful by themselves, including some that cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form other air pollutants after they are in the air.” 

VOCs often cause eye, nose, and throat irritations. People often complain of frequent headaches, allergic skin reactions, fatigue, and dizziness after prolonged exposure.  Over time, they can even damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. 

It’s important to avoid direct exposure to VOCs when you can. Again, that’s not always easy because of the common products VOCs are present in. You should take extra measures to store products that contain VOCs in a safe, well-ventilated area. You may also want to look up the ingredients in liquid or gas products that you’re using and research if they are harmful. 

Air Purifiers Offer Effective VOC Removal

VOCs sound pretty scary, right? The good news is that there are ways to remove VOCs and ensure your air quality is as clean as possible. The most surefire way to breathe fresher air is by utilizing an air purifier. 

For a truly healthy environment, you need to actually remove the VOC particles (not just move them around or cover them up). Using an air purifier that’s equipped to handle your space is great protection. You can take things a step further by using a high-quality model with advanced filtration technology. For example, Medify air purifiers are designed with True HEPA H13 filters with three levels of filtration. These filters are tested to remove 99.9% of particles down to 0.1 microns - small enough to capture VOCs. 

Plus, different purifiers offer different special features, beyond just removing contaminants. Check out our product pages for a full list of our user-friendly features, or contact our sales staff today. 

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