Friday, October 05, 2012

Indoor Air Quality FAQ’s: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Among the most serious concerns in indoor air quality are Volatile Organic Compounds. VOCs are emitted as vapours from thousands of household products. According to studies by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOC levels are much higher in indoor air than outdoor air regardless of whether homes are located in rural, urban or industrial areas. An air purifier for VOCs uses an adsorbent to clean the air and is very different from a standard HEPA air purifier.

What products emit VOCs?
Organic chemicals are used widely in household products and release vapours while they are being used, and also while being stored. Cleaning supplies, air fresheners, paints and varnishes contain organic chemicals, as do many other products like building materials, furniture, office equipment and even dry-cleaned clothing. Due to the constant release of VOC’s in indoor air, an air purifier designed to remove chemicals and odors should be left on continuously on low speed. Turning off the air purifier could lead to a build-up of pollutants.

What are the health effects?
Many organic compounds have been directly linked to cancer in animal studies and are known or suspected human carcinogens. While individual VOCs have been tested, very little is known about the combined effects of the numerous products we use every day. Immediate short-term health effects include eye irritation, breathing problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and problems with concentration and memory. 

How does an air purifier for VOC’s work? 
A good quality air purifier designed for chemicals and odors is a specialized product that is usually sold through a dealer and is rarely found in your local “mart” or hardware store. It uses a completely different filtration system than a cheaper air purifier for dust. That’s because standard HEPA air purifier filters can’t trap chemical vapours. The most effective filtration method for chemicals is deep-bed activated carbon. This heavy air purifier filter (usually 18 lbs. and over) is packed with highly porous granules that attract and trap chemicals, gases and odors. An activated carbon air purifier is considered so effective that they are widely used by the military and heavy industry for some of the world’s most toxic chemicals and odors. Some types of carbon air purifier filters are better suited for different chemicals. An expert air purifier manufacturer like AllerAir can recommend one of 40 blends to best deal with the chemicals in your indoor air.

Other Steps to Reduce Exposure
Along with an air purifier for chemicals and odors, there are some other simple steps to reduce VOC exposure:

·         When using chemical products, try to open windows to increase ventilation
·         Buy products in very small qualities that can be used-up quickly
·         Purchase new products that contain low or no VOCs
·         Avoid storing cleaners, paint cans, and varnishes in areas attached to the home

Learn More
For more information on VOCs, indoor air and which air purifier is right for you call an AllerAir Air Quality Expert at 1-888-852-8247 or chat live at

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