Volatile Organic Compounds
And Your Health

What exactly are volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and why should I be concerned about them?

Without being too scientific, organic compounds contain carbon and are found in all living things.

Organic (meaning carbon based) chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products including paints, varnishes, cleaning supplies, dry-cleaning fluid, disinfectants, degreasers, cosmetics and hobby products.

They are found in building materials, upholstery fabrics, carpeting, vinyl flooring, solvents, air fresheners, tobacco, fuel products, and many other common household products.

All of these organic chemical products can release organic compounds while you are using them and to a smaller degree when stored. Organic compounds are considered volatile when organic compounds become vapors or gases.

In other words, these organic compounds vaporize or get into the air at room temperature and become volatile organic compounds. We are then subjected to these VOC's when we breathe the air or when they are absorbed through our skin.

Often, VOC's emitted from a product can be detected by a strong odor such as with paint, adhesives, an automobile's "new car smell", gasoline, or hobby products like markers or glue to name a few.

But not all volatile organic compounds have a detectable odor. Nor do odors indicate the level of risk from inhalation from this group of chemicals.

To complicate matters, a product manufacturer will add an artificial fragrance (which in itself emits VOC's) to either mask their product's odor, or to create a pleasant association in the customer's mind with a fragrance such as "springtime fresh" or "summer rain". After all, hasn't the cleaning product industry convinced us that if it smells clean it must be clean?

Unless your home or work space is similar to a home in the 1800's on the wild frontier, you will find organic chemical products. The more products you use containing VOC's, the more you contribute to indoor air pollution, which results in poor indoor air quality and ultimately adverse health effects.

Short term adverse health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, loss of coordination, and nausea. Long term adverse health effects can include damage to the liver, kidneys, central nervous system and cancer.

As typical with all pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed.

Professional janitors or carpet cleaning technicians use a number of cleaning and maintenance products as they perform their work. They use general purpose cleaners, bathroom and tile cleaners, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, floor cleaners, floor wax strippers and floor polishes on a daily basis.

Each year about six out of every 100 professional janitors are injured by the chemicals in the products they use. Burns to the eyes and skin are the most common injuries, followed closely by breathing toxic fumes.

But how many home and office building occupants suffer from asthma, allergies, and chemical sensitivities from being exposed to toxic chemicals and the VOC's they emit?

Why take a chance? Insist that the carpet cleaning products, floor cleaners along with all the other cleaning products you use or that are used in your home or workplace contain zero or very low volatile organic compounds.

The cleaning products store of this website offers carpet cleaning products, upholstery cleaners, tile & grout cleaning products and a multi purpose cleaner that contain zero volatile organic compounds.

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