During our notoriously long and cold winters, here in Canada, the vast majority of us like to stay inside with our thermostats turned way up. Keeping warm and toasty during the winter is practically a Canadian pastime. But it isn’t necessarily good for our indoor air quality. Naturally, to keep the cold out, we tend to keep the windows shut. And this disallows ventilation. By cracking the windows, you allow the fresh air from outside to circulate with the stale air inside. Doing so improves indoor air quality.

Another way to better the air you breathe in your home is to avoid using products that contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, for short. In many cases, such products are the ones that keep our homes smelling fresh and clean. However, those smells often have damaging effects on our respiratory systems.

What makes VOCs so damaging?

VOCs contain carbon and, when entered into the air we breathe, can cause a number of complications. They range from conditions as simple as throat irritation to those as serious as nervous system damage. It all depends on how much exposure one endures. Because we often limit or prevent ventilation during the winter, the levels of VOCs in our homes can become up to 1,000 times greater than that of the outdoors.

VOCs aren’t just found in sweet-smelling cleaning products such as air fresheners, disinfectants and other cleansers. As the Government of Canada explains, they can be emitted from many sources including vehicle exhausts, cigarette smoke, paint, glues, varnish and flooring materials.

“In coatings, the solvents containing VOCs assist with the quality of application and drying, so that a substance like paint does not streak on a surface,” notes Green Home Guide, “However, they can cause respiratory and other health problems when used indoors. In addition, certain kinds of carpet, composite wood and other building materials can contain VOCs.”

What can be done to avoid the presence of VOCs in your home?

Go with natural cleansers. Chemical-based cleaning products will only worsen your home’s indoor air quality and potentially cause health issues. As well, be sure to pay attention to the labels of the paints and varnishes you buy when attempting to beautify your home. Look for low or no-VOC products.

As mentioned, ventilation is always important. When cleaning or painting, crack the windows to allow the VOC-polluted air from your home to escape. As well, safely dispose of any leftover amounts of VOC-containing products you do not intend on using.

How important is it to test for VOCs?

As you may have guessed, it’s vital. Because VOCs can be found in many of our products for everyday use, there is the possibility that they are impacting the safety of your home. Enviro-Works Inc. proudly offers VOC Testing which employs the EPA TO-17 using GC-MS method for the determination of VOCs.

This method uses active or passive sampling of air that traps the target analytes onto a multi-sorbent bed tube. These sorbent tubes allow for fast and accurate sample collection of indoor air, fence line, stack, workplace and occupational monitoring. Laboratory processing and analysis are much quicker than cannister sampling due to far less sample preparation time. Target analytes can be customized based on your needs.

For more information about our VOC Testing, please don’t hesitate to call us at 780-457-4652 or email us at info@enviro-works.com.