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Airborne debris indoors (C) Daniel Friedman Indoor VOC's - a Building Occupant's Guide to Indoor Air Quality

  • VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS - CONTENTS: Guide to Sources & Remedies for Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs as Indoor Air Contaminants. Common airborne chemicals found indoors and that should be avoided (& their sources). How to Reduce Human Exposure to Indoor VOCs
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about testing, finding the source of, & removing indoor VOCs or volatile organic compounds. Here we also discuss the problem with "test and run" indoor air consultants who don't do a useful job.
  • REFERENCES
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Guide to volatile organic compounds VOCs in indoor air:

This article explains steps to improve indoor air quality in homes, focused on the volatile organic compounds or VOCs often found indoors. These include MVOCs from mold, benzene, methylene chloride, and perchloroethylene among others.



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Guide to Sources & Remedies for Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs as Indoor Air Contaminants

Photograph of toxic gas testing devices.

This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.

Our page top photo shows a gas detector tube test for Perchloroethylene. Odors from paints and low-VOC or zero-VOC paints are also discussed
at ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE.

Many organic compounds are used during construction. Others are used daily in cleaning fluids, cosmetics, and hobby materials. These include the solvents in paints, caulk, and adhesives, as well as the ingredients in hair sprays, carpet and oven cleaners, floor and furniture polishes, and pesticides.

In its TEAM study, the Environmental Protection Agency found that the average level of 12 common organic pollutants was two to five times higher in houses than outdoors, although still 1,000 times less than short-term occupational limits.

The health effects of high concentrations of VOCs vary from the highly toxic and carcinogenic to no known effect. The impact of long-term exposure at the levels found in households, however, is less well understood.

Health Effects. As with most pollutants, the health effect depends on individual sensitivities as well as the level and duration of the exposure.

Common acute symptoms from moderate levels of exposure to VOCs indoors include eye and respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment.

Effects on the nervous system from exposure to VOCs are similar to those from alcohol consumption.

Common airborne chemicals found indoors and that should be avoided

How to Reduce Human Exposure to Indoor VOCs

Paints and coatings, adhesives, sealants, and a variety of other building products and materials produce high concentrations of VOCs when they are first applied or installed.

At these levels, even non sensitive individuals might experience symptoms such as eye and respiratory irritation. To avoid problems, new homes should be allowed to air out for at least a couple of weeks before being occupied, particularly if the weather is too cold to leave windows open. In cold weather, the home should be heated with ventilation systems run at full speed to help drive off the volatile compounds.

To limit exposure to household VOCs, the best strategy is to find alternative products. When that is not possible, carefully follow directions, use in well-ventilated areas, and do not store partially used containers in living spaces.

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

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Continue reading at MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see FORMALDEHYDE HAZARDS

Or see INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE - home

Or see ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE

Or see VINYL SIDING or WINDOW PLASTIC ODORS

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VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to BUILDING INDOOR AIR QUALITY IAQ

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