Simple Ways To Protect Your Family from VOCs Lurking In Household Products

Would you let someone who wants to hurt you into your home? Heck no! That’s why it’s surprising that people welcome dangerous chemicals inside every day. These chemicals come in the form of regular household products, furniture, and more, but can do you harm if you’re not careful. Here are common items to watch out for and solutions to reduce your exposure.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

Volatile organic compounds sound as scary as they are. At room temperature, these compounds evaporate into invisible gas and work their way into our bodies — causing sinus and breathing problems, nausea, confusion and dizziness, and other unpleasantness. In high enough concentrations, VOCs can cause irreversible brain damage or death. VOCs are present in:

  • Paints, varnishes, and solvents
  • Moth balls
  • Gasoline
  • Dry cleaning
  • Pesticides
  • Paper products like newspaper, brown paper bags, toilet paper, etc.
  • Air fresheners and cleaning supplies
  • Vinyl
  • Carpeting
  • Printers
  • Upholstery Fabrics
  • Adhesives and caulks
  • Beauty supplies
  • Petroleum
  • Car exhaust
  • Pressed wood furniture
  • Tobacco (secondhand smoke)
  • Mattresses

Six Steps to Protect Yourself from VOCs


Ventilate.

Whenever you’re painting or using substances with VOCs, keep the area well ventilated. VOCs become dangerous in high concentrations, so turning on an exhaust fan, opening a window, or wearing a mask can protect your body.


Go natural.

Instead of buying VOC-laden chemical products, try old fashioned supplies like lemon juice and vinegar. You can also shop for brands committed to chemical-free and low chemical living like the Honest Company.


Read labels.

Products with low or zero VOCs are labeled. Always check the container before buying to keep your household VOC levels to a minimum. Also, look out for the following ingredients that contain very high to low levels of VOCs:

  • Propane
  • Butane
  • Methyl chloride
  • Formaldehyde
  • d-Limonene
  • Toluene
  • Acetone
  • Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
  • 2-propanol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • Hexanal
  • Chlordane
  • Phthalates
  • Fire retardants (PCBs and PBB)

Use an air purifier.

Air purifiers were invented to remove contaminants from the air. An option like this air purifier from Alen specifically targets VOCs and airborne chemicals to eliminate health hazards from your home.

We Recommend

Airpura V600 HEPA Air Purifier

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Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 for VOCs

Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 for VOCs

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Buy used.

New furniture and items are more likely to have high concentrations of VOCs. Buying used will decrease the amount of chemicals you bring into your house. Plus, it’ll reduce supply and demand and the creation of more VOCs.


Do hazmat disposal.

If you have old paint cans and chemicals laying around, get rid of them! But do it safely. Most cities offer free hazardous material disposal days where you can drop off dangerous household items. This is a responsible and safe way to clean up your home.


Your house should be your sanctuary—safe from stressors and harm. Keep your eyes peeled for VOC-containing chemicals and products and follow the tips above to reduce your exposure.