Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals that off-gas from items in your home. During the winter months of the year, these chemicals become trapped inside your living spaces, affecting your indoor air quality and your health. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do in order to lessen your exposure and maintain a healthy indoor environment.

Identify the Sources of VOCs

Before you can take action to improve the health of your home’s air in the winter, you need to know where the VOCs come from. New furnishings, including painted or stained wood furniture, upholstered furniture and carpeting are major sources of VOCs. If you have hobbies that involve painting, gluing, varnishing or soldering, these also release VOCs. New plastic items also create VOCs in your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, dry-cleaned clothes, stored pesticides and cleaning sprays generate VOCs.

Health Effects of VOC Exposure

There are many health affects of VOC exposure. Some short-term effects include eye and nose irritation, allergic skin reactions, nausea, headache and dizziness. Some of the long-term effects of VOC exposure include liver and kidney damage, central nervous system disorders and an increased risk of cancer.

Ways to Remove VOCs from Your Indoor Air

You can take action to reduce your exposure to VOCs during the winter. Allow furniture and other consumer goods to off-gas before bringing them into your home, if at all possible. Consider using low-VOC paints, adhesives and cleaning products. Improving your home’s ventilation will make a big impact on your exposure. Running your furnace’s or heat pump’s fan increases airflow. Scheduling a winter tune-up of your furnace or heat pump will also help. Be sure to change the heating system’s air filter every 30 to 90 days so that it can capture particles from the air.

For more information about keeping your indoor air clean and improving ventilation, check out AirMaxx Mechanical’s indoor air quality services, or give us a call.

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