VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds are a group of organic chemicals which evaporate easily at room temperature and are present in many products that we have around the home. Some of the most common VOCs include benzene, acetone, ethylene glycol and formaldehyde and can be found in; paints, solvents, upholstery fabrics, carpets and adhesives, varnishes, vinyl floors, cleaning chemicals, air fresheners and candles.
At any one time, there could be from 50 to 100’s of individual VOCs in the air and research shows that indoor levels are 2 to 5 times higher than those outdoors. The most harmful types of these airborne chemicals can burn your eyes, nose and throat, affect the nervous system, cause headaches and nausea and are particularly bad for children and those with asthma-like symptoms. Long-term, chronic exposure at high levels can cause much more serious risks which are currently under-researched.
With many homes increasingly sealed to save energy it is vital that along with good ventilation – we try to eliminate as many common household VOC’s products as possible. To do this, we favour using low-VOC interior products (such as paints, carpets, varnishes and sealants), as well as opting for natural, organic or up-cycled furniture and soft furnishings, from sustainable sources where possible.
There is now also some great home technology available, that will help you monitor and clean the air, if you want to take that extra step.