VOCs inside our homes


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that evaporate at ordinary room temperature. For example, formaldehyde, which evaporates from paint, has a boiling point of only –19 °C (–2 °F).

VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Most scents or odours are of VOCs.

Basically VOCs are Carbon compounds like:

  • Acetone CH3(CO)CH3
  • Benzene C6H6
  • Ethylene glycol C2H6O2
  • Formaldehyde CH2O
  • Methylene chloride CH2Cl2
  • Perchloroethylene C2Cl4
  • Toluene C7H8
  • Xylene C8H10
  • 1,3-butadiene C4H6


Many products we have in our homes release or “off-gas” VOCs. Some examples of sources of VOCs are:

  • Carpets and adhesives
  • Composite wood products
  • Paints
  • Sealing caulks
  • Solvents
  • Upholstery fabrics
  • Varnishes
  • Vinyl Floors
  • Air fresheners
  • Air cleaners that produce ozone
  • Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
  • Cosmetics
  • Fuel oil, gasoline
  • Moth balls
  • Vehicle exhaust running a car in an attached garage
  • Cooking
  • Dry cleaning
  • Hobbies
  • Newspapers
  • Non-electric space heaters
  • Photocopiers
  • Smoking
  • Stored paints and chemicals
  • Wood burning stoves

Studies have shown that the level of VOCs indoors is generally two to five times higher than the level of VOC’s outdoors.

Try to keep your houses out of chemicals, open the windows because your houses need fresh air too. In winter have a timetable that will allow your houses to breathe twice while your heating is off during that time of course. I also use specific plants to help my house be healthier. In the next post I will post some studies and recommendations about which plants are the best for specific VOCs.

As always stay tuned.


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