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What Are Volatile Organic Compounds and how can they be reduced?

When you are building your dream home, you invest a lot of time and money creating a place that offers you the most comfort and the highest quality of living as possible, somewhere you can proudly call home.


There are many things to consider that can have an impact on the comfort your new house can offer, one being the quality of indoor air – probably something you haven’t thought much about in the past!

A major contributor to poor indoor air quality are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) - tiny airborne particles usually emitted as a gas from various solids or liquids, and as the word ‘volatile’ suggests these can be harmful to your health, and detrimental to the comfort of your home.

Where do VOC’s come from?

Most VOC’s are contained within typical household items used for day to day housekeeping. Cleaning supplies such as disinfectants, polish, air fresheners and aerosol sprays are the most common, but craft products such as adhesives and paint are also contributors, as are some home heating fuels. In most cases these harmful compounds are released while the products are in use, but worryingly some are released into the air while in storage – even dry-cleaned clothing!

What are the effects of VOC’s

Volatile compounds will affect people in different ways, but the most common include:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose or throat
  • Nausea, headaches or poor co-ordination/dizziness
  • Skin reactions
  • Damage to internal organs such as liver, kidneys and the nervous system
  • Some suggestions that they can contribute to cancer in humans

How to reduce Volatile Organic Compounds in your home

There are 3 main ways you can reduce the amount of VOC’s in your home:

  1. Reduce the amount of VOC’s you release into the air by using less harmful substances. This could mean cutting back on aerosols, burning fewer candles or using less air fresheners. You could also change any fossil fuels you burn in the house for heat.
  2. Follow the manufacturers guidelines when you do have to use harmful substances. These are usually printed on an attached label and will include vital information for usage and storage to ensure the effects and risks are minimised.
  3. Provide good ventilation in your home, ideally using a system that will both supply and extract air, such as a Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) system. This will provide clean air 24/7, with fresh filtered air supplied to your habitable rooms and moist polluted air extracted, including any harmful VOC’s that are present.

If you are building a new home, make sure you put indoor air quality high up your list of priorities. Installing an MVHR system from BEAM offers many health benefits and helps get rid of all those nasty VOC’s that could be doing damage to your health.

Contact BEAM now for expert advice on how to ventilate your home.

You may also like to read:

A breath of fresh air for new build homes

Your homes air quality – it’s not an airy fairy matter!

Help keep your home pollen free

*US Environmental Protection Agency



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