Beware of VOC fumes in the house!

Beware of VOC fumes in the house!

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Our homes are full of VOCs, gases harmful to health emitted by different materials in the house. How to track them down?

What are VOCs?

VOCs or volatile organic compounds are organic gases that evaporate at room temperature and are found in the air. They are found everywhere in the houses whose air they pollute, being harmful to health. The concentration of VOCs is generally higher inside buildings than outside.

Where are VOCs found in the house?

In building materials and those used in the manufacture of furniture: insulating foam, paints, carpets, synthetic floors, paints, varnishes, adhesives, cleaning products (detergents, strippers, stain removers, thinners, methylated spirits, turpentine …) And in aerosol cans. Combustion appliances and food cooking also produce VOCs. Finally, you should know that tobacco smoke increases the emission of these VOCs.

How to recognize them?

Formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, alcohols, mineral spirits and combustible gases (butane, propane, etc.) are the most common VOCs. But it is not always easy to verify the composition of a product. If the mention "free of solvent" appears on the packaging, this is a good sign. Avoid products marked "Do not use in a closed room", "Do not spray against a flame", "Do not smoke during use", "Do not inhale vapors". They are all indications that indicate the presence of VOCs in the product. Another clue: VOCs generally give off a strong odor.

Why are VOCs dangerous for humans?

Because they are volatile and we inhale them. In 20 years, the number of allergic respiratory diseases has doubled. It is difficult to list all the harmful effects of VOCs because they are so many and varied. The most common are irritations, allergies, asthma, headaches, dizziness, nausea, neurological disorders, liver disorders, digestive disorders, leukemia, cancers, reduced male fertility. Problems such as an allergic reaction or skin irritation can also occur during skin contact with a product rich in VOCs or materials contaminated with VOCs such as linen and bedding. Children are the most exposed population because their respiratory system is not fully developed. Babies are more prone to bronchiolitis in a VOC-laden environment.

How to protect yourself from VOCs?

Ventilate your home every day, even in winter, to renew the indoor air. If you are repainting a room, wait awhile before you settle in. And in any case, prefer water-based paints (with water). Use the most natural cleaning products possible (opt for ecological products). Avoid buying chipboard or plywood furniture. Choose furniture with low formaldehyde content (class E1). Prefer oiled or waxed wood rather than stained or varnished. Invest in depolluting plants such as ficus benjamina or ficus robusta (rubber), aloe vera, philodendron, chrysanthemum, anthurium, azalea ...