Construction, Home Improvements and Your Health

Having work done in the home or workplace whilst necessary – and when you reach the end results, rewarding – doesn’t come without its problems. On top of the financial burden that is synonymous with building work,  there are also many risks to your health including VOC emissions, something people know little about.

What are VOCs?

VOCs, also known as Volatile Organic Compounds, are indoor air pollutants that are released into the air through the use of building materials and household cleaning products. In small doses, they are relatively harmless to your health, but when concentrations of VOCs are high, such as when you’re having building work done or regularly deep cleaning your home with lots of chemically based cleaning products, you put your health at risk. Off gassing is the official term used for the release of these chemicals in to the air.

Where do you find VOC’s?

VOCs are present in over 10,000 materials and are found in the air both indoors and outdoors, however because of reduced ventilation they tend to concentrate increasingly more indoors. Formaldehyde is a more commonly known VOC that can off-gas from engineered wood such as flooring products, cabinets and laminate flooring. Other products that off gas these harmful chemicals are:

• Paints, varnishes & solvents
• Plastering materials
• Air fresheners
• Cleaning products
• Aerosol Sprays
• Newly reupholstered furniture
• Carpets
• Cooking
• Dry cleaned clothes

These are just a small list of common household VOC releasing materials and from that list alone, it’s clear to see that everyone is affected!

How do VOCs harm your health?

As the concentrates build up over time, the risk to our health increases. After certain activities, indoor levels of VOCs can be 1000 times higher than outdoor levels!

Have you ever noticed after a deep cleaning session or the builders have left, you’re feeling a bit nauseous? May be you have a headache? These are all symptoms of exposure to VOCs. Other short term health effects include:

• Irritation to your eyes and throat
• A rash on your skin
• Lack of coordination
• Dizziness
• Asthma attacks

Long term exposure is much more serious and can be fatal. Serious health effects are:

• Cancer
• Liver damage
• Kidney damage
• Respiratory conditions

How can I protect myself and others from VOCs?

A great start in making sure you are keeping yourself as safe as possible when in the unavoidable presence of these chemicals, is to make sure that you are properly ventilating the area. Using gloves when cleaning and securely storing cleaning products when you’re finished using them is another. When in the workplace, relocate staff if possible when having construction or decorating work done.

If you want to take serious steps in reducing levels of chemicals in the air, investing in a air purifier is a must. Air purifiers remove airborne pollutants within minutes and use light technology to show you the quality of the air, so you can rest assured the air you breath is clean.

Protect your health and talk to one of our advisors today about our rental or purchase options.
01244 987443