In a world full of abbreviations and acronyms, VOCs don’t sound as dangerous as they should. You may have heard the term and not thought twice about what it means, or you may have looked up what the letters stand for and never acted on what you learned. However, it’s important for everyone in Toano, Virginia, to know what VOCs are — because they could be making you sick.

What Are VOCs?

The acronym “VOC” stands for “volatile organic compound.” Simply put, VOCs are harmful chemicals that are released into the air (or off-gassed) by certain products over time. Examples include benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, and xylene.

What makes VOCs so scary is that they’re found in a wide range of common household items, from cleaning products to upholstered furniture. Paint, caulk, adhesives, carpet, and composite wood products can all contain VOCs, and they can be released during activities such as smoking, dry cleaning, cooking, and burning wood.

What Can They Cause?

Exposure to low levels of VOCs can increase your risk of certain health problems and make symptoms worse for those who suffer from asthma or allergies.

Meanwhile, exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause the following symptoms:

  • Eye, nose & throat irritation

  • Headaches

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Dizziness

If exposure continues over a long period of time, more serious problems can develop. These include cancer, damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys, and damage to the central nervous system.

What Can I Do About Them?

To address the VOCs in your home, start by removing any offending products you can. In the future, look for VOC-free paint, rugs, and crafting supplies and try making your own cleaning solutions instead of relying on store-bought versions. Where VOCs are unavoidable, use indoor plants or an air purifier to clean the air. You may also want to consider installing a whole-home air purifier and upgrading your home’s ventilation for an extra layer of protection.

At Kearney & Sons, we offer several products and services that can improve your home’s indoor air quality. Give us a call today at 757-269-9589.

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