According to the EPA, the average person spends about 90% of their time inside. This includes time spent at the office, our schools, shopping centers, and of course your own home. We look at indoor spaces as areas of protection and safety, and yet simply being inside could be putting you at risk.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are indoor pollutants that are released in gas form from many indoor solids and liquids. Some of the most common household and office items will leach chemical compounds into the air, causing you to breathe in the pollutant. VOCs will often be released from items like:
- Office supplies; such as ink and copy machines
- Cleaning chemicals
- Adhesives and glues
- Craft materials
- Building materials
- Home furnishings
On their own, household items like these are not typically harmful. However, in larger quantities they can start to produce odors and gasses that may contaminate the air in your home. The result of this can be indoor air pollution, which generally leads to health consequences like allergies, asthma and common cold symptoms.
Often, you won’t notice the level of contamination that VOCs are causing. Air quality suffers, but the process is typically gradual and most of us won’t detect the small changes in smell. This is why exposure typically becomes chronic. If you don’t realize you are breathing in harmful gasses, you are not likely to correct the issue.
Due to the popularity of household items like those listed above, VOCs are actually the number one reason for indoor air issues, and young children and the elderly are at the greatest risk of developing respiratory issues as a result of these harmful gasses. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the concentration of volatile organic compounds in the air is often 10 times higher in a typical household than it is outdoors, and this holds true regardless of where the home is located, whether it is in a rural or urban environment. When you couple this statistic with the knowledge that the vast majority of our time is spent indoors, it becomes clear that to breathe healthier air we need to focus on improving the air quality within our own homes.
Being aware of the common causes of indoor air pollution is essential in managing your own indoor air quality. Consult with an All Weather Contractors’ professional to have the air quality of your home tested. To manage indoor air quality and to reduce your risk of health consequences from indoor air pollution, make sure to replace the air filters in your home regularly. Most air filters require replacement every month to three months.