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What to Know About Volatile Organic Compounds and Your Home


New carpet, air fresheners and dryer sheets might seem like things that make your home more enjoyable, but they often harbor Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) — chemicals that can harm your health. Even the South Bay Peninsula smog can bring these chemicals inside. The more you know about them, the better you can defend yourself.


VOCs are airborne chemicals such as benzene, toluene, butane and formaldehyde found in a wide variety of products. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to heart disease and some types of cancer. Even so, they're commonly used in carpet, upholstery, paints, plywood furniture, adhesives, cleaning products, air fresheners, personal care products and numerous other household products.

Items such as new furniture and flooring will give off VOCs for up to several months. Cleaning and personal care products produce VOCs every time you use them. Car exhaust can also produce VOCs.


The most effective way to protect your home from VOCs is to not let them in. When you need paints, carpeting and other products for your home, choose low-VOC versions. When possible, leave new furniture outdoors or in the garage for at least a week to off-gas. Washing it down with a natural deodorizer, such as baking soda, can help, too. Avoid artificially scented products when you can and go for naturally scented or unscented options.

To deal with the VOCs that do find their way in, good ventilation and air purification are key. After cooking or showering, run your exhaust fan for around 15 minutes.

A whole-house air cleaner equipped with a carbon filter can also help. Because VOCs are gases, not particles, the filter in your air conditioner can't trap them. The activated charcoal in a carbon filter, however, can absorb harmful, odor-causing gaseous chemicals

For help getting rid of the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in your home, contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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