Have you heard of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) ?
VOCs are a combination of chemicals, some of which may have short and long term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are much higher indoors than outdoors. You may be surprised to know that even carpets can contain VOCs and are also emitted into the air through second hand cigarette smoke and we all know of the health risks associated with that!
The chemicals used in the manufacturing process may release VOCs through a process known as off-gassing whereby carpet releases the compounds into the air, especially when first installed.
The Carpet and Rug Institution has developed a program known as the CRI Indoor Air Quality Green Label Program (CRI "Green Label") to determine the level of VOC emissions from carpet, floor adhesives and cushion products. The CRI Green Label attached to a carpet, floor adhesive, or cushion signifies that a representative sample of the product type has been tested by an independent laboratory and meets the requirements for each programme established by CRI.
VOCs can be particularly hazardous to the young and elderly and can also effect people who suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD.
Short term exposure to VOCs may also cause:
• Visual disorders
• Irritation of the eyes
• Memory problems.
How long paint releases VOCs depends on the type of paint, the surface being painted, and the climate. It’s generally thought to be strongest during the initial drying and curing, then to continue for several years and possibly even (in small amounts) for the life of the paint.
When trying to upgrade an existing home to low or zero VOC paint, you have three choices:
Paint Over It: If your previous paint job is more than 5 years old, you may choose to just paint over it with low or zero VOC paint
Remove Old Paint: The only way to stop off-gassing completely and forever is to eliminate the source.
Use a Sealing Primer: A third option is to paint the surface with a non-toxic sealing primer. These products can be very effective at blocking VOCs, including formaldehyde, from old paints and building materials.
After six years of product development, Ian West and John Ashworth of Lakeland Paints created the world’s first complete range of odourless, solvent-free, non-toxic decorative paints.
Today Lakeland Paints lead the child-safe paint manufacturing sector with a wide range of innovative paint products for a variety of specialist uses including one which can help to clean the air!
Products in your home
Lighting some mood-enhancing candles, polishing the living room floor; these seemingly innocent activities use products that potentially can contain harmful chemicals that you should be on the lookout for.
Removing all hazardous chemicals from your home is not easy but there are many green or VOC-free products available as alternatives.
See to the left a list of are some of the most common VOCs found in the household and where they can be found.
- Found in: nail polish remover, furniture polish and wallpaper
- Found in: paint, glue, carpeting and emissions from gasoline combustion
- Found in: emissions from barbecues, burning candles, stoves and cigarettes
- Found in: mothballs and deodorizers
- Found in: glass cleaners, dishwasher detergents and laundry detergents
- Found in: floor lacquers and certain molded plastics
- Found in: fragrant products such as soap or laundry detergents
Shop for Eco & Natural products
Founded in 2014, Live in the Light offers clean products from around the world. This online natural and organic lifestyle store features a comprehensive collection of natural and chemical-free ranges including skincare, bodycare, colour cosmetics, hair and nail care, mother & baby, men's grooming, home fragrance and pet care.
With an emphasis on 'living life naturally', many of the brands on the website are exclusive to Live in the Light in the UK and include Annemarie Gianni, Pure Anada, Fat & The Moon, Orgaid, Carina Organic, Live in the Light, Tin Feather, Meta-Pora, Earthbath, Vermont Soap and Vonbros.
More about VOCs
Common Sources of VOCs in the Home: How to Limit Your Exposure
We recently heard from Greg Geilman of LA Homes & South Bay Residential. Greg is from across the big pond in Los Angeles. With over 40 years of experience in the property world, his two real estate agencies publish some very interesting blogs which could be of interest to home owners both in the USA or UK.
This recent blog about VOCs gives a comprehensive insight into the issues around these chemicals - https://lahomes.com/volatile-organic-compounds-common-sources/