An indoor air quality (IAQ) monitor will report on the levels of common pollutants and other air conditions inside your space in real time. The culprit could be anything from excessive dust to high humidity to emissions from household cleaners or building materials.
It is common for people to report one or more of the following symptoms:
You might not think twice before lighting a candle or using a common floor cleaner. We tend to assume these household goods are benign. However, people are often shocked to learn that many common products emit harmful gases that pollute indoor air. Things such as furniture, paints, and surface coatings can be dangerous to your health due to pollutant chemicals.
These cancer causing chemicals are emitted at normal room temperature from thousands of common products and materials found in your home. Some can be detected via smell, while others are odorless. From reduced productivity at the office to heightened risk for certain cancers, exposure to harmful volatile organic comounds (VOCs) can cause both short and long-term health effects.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOC levels are consistently higher indoors than outdoors (up to 10x). You’re more likely to be exposed to air quality issues toxins cause when inside - where most of us spend over ninety percent of our time.
There are 6 main VOCs that are often found in household goods around the home. They include:
• Formaldehyde: A pungent gas often used in building materials, this substance is often found in floor lacquers, paints, adhesives, wall boards, and plastics.
• Ethanol: A colorless liquid that mixes easily with organic compounds, it’s often found in glass cleaners, dishwasher detergents, and laundry detergents.
• Benzene: A flammable liquid with a sweet order, this substance can be found in paint, glue, carpeting, and emissions from gasoline combustion.
• Acetone: A clear organic compound that is commonly found in nail polish remover, furniture polish, and wallpaper.
• Toluene: A clear liquid with a distinct smell, toluene is often found in paint.
• Butanol: A toxin that is commonly found in the emissions from barbecues, burning candles, stoves, and cigarettes.
The health implications of having these chemicals in your home can vary. For some, they include mild irritants, such as a runny nose or throat irritation. For others, it might mean regular headaches or nausea. Long term exposure can lead to serious organ damage or even cancer.
There are things you can do to mitigate the harmful effects of VOCs. With a few small changes, you can help reduce and remove VOC sources from your home and work environment.
1. Control the Source: Read carefully through ingredients listed on product labels to determine whether it could be a source of pollution in your interior environment. When using carcinogenic goods, make sure to follow label instructions and precautions. You can also control the source of pollutant by storing harmful products away from your immediate environment (like your garage) and by purchasing smaller quantities.
2. Choose Safer Products: Growing awareness of VOCs have pushed many companies to offer safer alternative products. These range from furnishings to paints to common cleaners. The Environmental Working Group, known as the EWG, offers a cleaning supplies guide with 2,500 safer household products.
3. Increase Ventilation: High indoor VOC levels are linked to poor ventilation. One of the quickest (and easiest) ways to reduce VOC levels in your home is to increase ventilation. Something as simple as opening a window or turning on an exhaust fan can help limit your exposure to dangerous VOCs. The ventilation systems found in passive house buildings consistently maintain fresh air supplies and also filter the air.
4. Use Technology: When it comes to cleaner air, technology can be your friend. For example, using an air purifier with a carbon filter will trap harmful chemical compounds and prevents them from further circulating in the air in your home. Or, an air quality monitor fitted with a VOC sensor will help you identify harmful chemicals and prompt you to take necessary protective measures.