The European commission report found that improving indoor air quality is “one of the most profitable investments society can make” and we couldn’t agree more. Not only does great indoor air quality increase productivity, but it is also key to comfort, wellbeing and numerous health benefits when gas, toxins and chemical levels are diminished or removed. Total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) are a big part of this and lately, there is a surge in researching its reduction and effects.

VOCs riginate from cleaning agents, paints, solvents, carpets and furniture and are even emitted by humans. When you have an enclosed space like a home or office, these emitted gases accumulate and pollute our fresh air. There are however easy ways to fix this.

Airthings image effects of TVOC volatile organic compounds on the body

Top five easy tips to lower VOC contamination indoors

Choosing paint


High levels of VOC solvents in paint contribute to pollution and reduce the overall indoor air quality. More and more governing bodies are taking initiative to create certification programs that explain to consumers which paints contain low VOCs, and therefore are low risk. When redecorating, consider choosing paints with low VOCs as shown through labels that are designated ‘low VOC’, ‘No VOC’, ‘Zero VOC’ etc.

Used furniture


With the surge of interest into upcycling, repurposing furniture and flea market finds, you will be happy to know there is also an excellent health benefit that comes along with used furniture. Off-gassing from new furniture is often most prominent in the first few life years of the product, so second-hand furniture will reduce this risk. It is good for the environment, more cost-efficient and provides peace of mind.

Cleaning products


It is no secret that cleaning the house lifts your spirits. This feeling of satisfaction can be doubled by choosing cleaning products marked low or no VOCs. This is because they are more environmentally friendly, as it has been found that VOCs in cleaning products decrease the indoor air quality and contribute to smog formation in outdoor air. Commonplace cleaning products to watch out for most, include detergents, air fresheners, furniture polish, oven cleaner, carpet cleaner and other varnishes. If in doubt, the U.S. General Services Administration GSA Environmental products and services guides offer detail product information to help make more environmentally friendly purchases.

Storage


Following the theme of tidying, keeping toxic products in an unattached garage or shed is recommended. It is not simply the consumption of such products like paint, varnishes, heavy cleaning supplies etc that are hazardous. They actually omit gasses which can infiltrate a room and reduce indoor air quality to be of where they are placed.

Ventilation


The biggest factor to consider when reducing VOC exposure is the off-gassing process. When VOC toxins and chemicals are released indoors, the off-gassing is contained in a small area making levels rise. Therefore, increasing ventilation through opening windows, clearing air vents, installing under door vents, are each small changes that can help combat high levels, A great way to optimize indoor ventilation is to monitor indoor air quality and adjust ventilation based on the results.

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Sources:

GSA

ECA report

EPA

EPA greener products

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