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The hottest summer days are upon us in Springfield, VA, and air conditioners are already turned up high. Everyone always checks to make sure their AC system is working and properly cooling their house. But most people forget to think about the quality of air these systems put into their home. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, can get into the vent systems of any air conditioner and pollute the air you breathe in your homes. Read on to learn how to identify and remove VOCs.

What are Volatile Organic Compounds?

Volatile organic compounds are certain types of compounds that contribute to poor air quality. These often include certain types of harmful gases and chemicals in the air, and things like cleaning products and paints can emit them. Sometimes, these VOCs are odorous, but oftentimes they have no scent and can therefore be difficult to detect.

VOCs are more concentrated and dangerous in indoor areas because they can’t be easily aerated when trapped inside a house. And, when you switch on your air conditioner, you often get these contaminates swept inside vents and they travel from room to room through the whole house.

Why are Volatile Organic Compounds Dangerous?

VOCs are extremely dangerous for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma who can have trouble breathing with so many irritants in the air. However, volatile organic compounds can affect even those without respiratory conditions, and low air quality can harm everyone, including pets.

These compounds, when breathed in for even a short period, can cause multiple health problems in humans. These issues include:

  • Headaches.
  • Inflammation of the throat, nose and eyes.
  • Coughing and painful breathing.
  • Skin irritation.
  • Bronchitis and pneumonia.

VOCs cause even greater health concerns when breathed in for long periods. Some of these issues include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Respiratory diseases.
  • Negative impacts on the spleen, liver and blood.
  • Negative impacts on the reproductive system.
  • Long-term headaches and anxiety.

Sources of Volatile Organic Compounds

The difficult thing when it comes to VOCs is identifying them. Since you cannot see or often smell them in your home, you may not even realize they’re there. However, certain items may be in your home that you can remove or clean to improve air quality.

Common household products are often the main cause of VOCs in a home’s air. These products can be either removed from the home or contained in an enclosed area, such as an air-tight container, to keep VOCs away from vent systems. These products may include:

  • Paints, stains and lacquers.
  • Pesticides.
  • Correction fluids and carbonless copy paper.
  • Glues.
  • Permanent and oil-based markers.

Examples of common chemicals presented as VOCs include benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene and xylene, just to name a few. You can check labels on any product to see if these chemicals are present or research the product’s ingredients to see if any VOC-emitting chemicals are in the product.

Brand new furniture is often treated with VOC-emitting chemicals, and these may slowly add VOCs to your home’s air for months after you bring them into the home. To combat this problem, opt for secondhand furniture for your next purchase. House paint contains VOCs as well, although newer paints are on the market with “low VOC” labels.

How Can You Eliminate VOCs From Your Home?

The best way to eliminate VOCs from your home immediately is by installing a new air purifier system. Although it helps to have clean air ducts and good ventilation in a home, VOCs will ultimately remain in the air and vents until a purifier traps and eliminates them.

Volatile organic compounds can lead to poor indoor air quality and health problems. However, there are many steps you can take to protect your home and family from VOCs. One you can take today is installing an air purifier by calling Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

Image provided by iStock

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