Tips for Dealing with Spring Allergies

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Although you may be happy that warmer weather has finally arrived, you may be frustrated with the allergy symptoms it may bring with it. Unlike food allergies or allergies to certain types of animals, spring allergies often occur when the trees, flowers and other fauna are in bloom.

What are the Common Allergy Symptoms?

Spring allergy symptoms can range from the sniffles to coughing, sneezing and watery eyes. In severe cases, they can cause a person to trouble breathing and can affect their ability to concentrate. Allergy symptoms can make a person feel ill and have a negative impact on their school or work performance.

Identifying the Causes of Allergies

If a person believes that they have allergies, it is highly recommended that they go to a specialist who can help them identify exactly what they are allergic to. An allergy specialist may give you a skin test or a blood test. Skin tests often include pricking the skin with a small amount of the suspected allergen. If you are allergic to that particular allergen, you will form a red bump at the site of the prick.

Tips to Prevent Allergy Symptoms

If a specialist is able to identify a particular allergen that is causing you trouble, they may have medication that you can take that will reduce the symptoms and make you feel better. However, if your symptoms are not severe enough to warrant prescription medication or they are more troublesome than normal, there are some natural remedies you can use to keep your symptoms at bay.

For example, nasal irrigation may potentially help clean out the sinuses, which could make breathing a little bit easier. To do this, you will need to mist up a solution of warm distilled water, a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. A neti pot or squeeze bottle is then used to administer the solution into the sinuses. It is important to note that this works for some and not for others, so if you do not see any improvements, you may need to find alternative treatments.

Spring Cleaning to Get Rid of Allergy Symptoms

If you are allergic to pollen and other types of biological allergens, you can help make yourself feel better by making sure your home is free of them. Vacuuming at least once a week and doing the occasional dusting can keep your exposure levels at bay. Be sure to change out or wash your furnace filters, depending on the type that you use, on a regular basis so that you can be sure that the airborne allergens are being removed from the air that you are breathing. You can also install a whole-home air cleaner like these to improve your indoor air quality.

You can also prevent some allergens from getting into your home by removing your shoes before you come inside. If you spent the day outdoors, a quick change of clothes can prevent you from transporting pollen and other allergens all around your home. Finally, you may find it appropriate to shower before jumping into your sheets. This way, you can breathe a little easier and get a refreshing night of rest.

Stay Healthy and Productive

When you find a system of keeping the allergens at bay that works for you, you will be amazed at just how much better and more energized you feel. Note that, in addition to keeping pollen and other biological allergens out of your home and taking medical precautions, it is always helpful to eat a healthy diet, stay active and stay positive.

How to Make the Most of Your Thermostat

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

When you are trying to save energy or cut down on the amount of energy your home uses, one easy way to start is by installing a programmable thermostat. While purchasing and installing a programmable thermostat can be easy, actually programming it so that you begin to see results can be a bit difficult, especially if you have no experience using a programmable thermostat. We can install one for you, 10% off during the month of February!

 

What is a Programmable Thermostat?

A programmable thermostat is designed to automatically adjust the temperatures in the home depending on what time of day it is. Essentially, you can program your thermostat to run less during the night when everyone is asleep and during the day when all family members are at work or at school. Because more energy is lost when the temperature differences in the home and out of the home are greater, turning the thermostat up or down when no one is home will reduce the amount of energy that is lost.

Figuring Out Your Family’s Schedule

Before you program your thermostat, you should no what schedule your family runs on. Depending on the make and model of programmable thermostat that you choose, you may be able to program week days and weekend days differently to reflect your family’s schedule. For example, you will need to know when your family members normally wake up, when they leave the home, when they normally return and when they usually head to bed.

Recommended Thermostat Settings

The U.S. Department of Energy suggests certain settings that can help you reduce energy consumption. When it comes to the winter months, it is recommended that the temperature be set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you are awake or when you are at home. When everyone is asleep or out of the home, the temperature should be lowered by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. You do not want to lower the temperature more than this as the cost of reheating a very cold home twice a day can be high.

During the summer months, keeping the temperature higher will reduce energy waste. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you set temperatures at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The air conditioning should be programmed to shut off completely when you are asleep or when no one is home. When the days are just right and do not require any cooling, be sure to shut off your air conditioning unit manually. Depending on the make and model of thermostat that you use, you may need to turn it back on yourself or it may turn itself back on when the house becomes too warm again.

Keeping Your Home Comfortable

No one wants to wake up to a cold home, so you should program your thermostat to turn up the heat about 30 minutes before you or your family members plan to get out of bed. To compensate for turning up the heat a little bit early, you can always program the thermostat to turn the heat back down about 30 minutes or so before you intend to go to sleep. In fact, doing this may even encourage rowdy kids to get to bed, even when they tell you they are not tired.

While programmable thermostats can save energy and even reduce your utility bills by up to 15 percent, it is important that you follow through with using your programmable thermostat. If it is not used correctly, you can actually end up with poor results. If the device is used correctly, however, the benefits can potentially inspire you to find other ways to reduce the amount of energy your home consumes.

 

Taking Control of Indoor Pollutants During the Winter

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

During the winter when temperatures remain low, keeping the home airtight and warm may be of the highest priority for many homeowners. While sealing off the home from the outside world will save money and keep inhabitants warmer, there is a major drawback. Sealing up the home can cause indoor air pollutants to also become trapped in the recirculating air, potentially causing feelings of illness or other more severe symptoms.
What are Indoor Pollutants?

Indoor pollutants can range from biological allergens like pet dander and pollen to harmful or even toxic particles called volatile organic compounds. Pollutants can be brought indoors from outside or they may be generated inside from appliances or even from the home’s heating unit.

Before you can begin to improve the indoor air quality in your home, you will need to determine where the pollutants are coming from. Volatile organic compounds can be found in many household supplies, personal care products, furnishings and paints. Fireplaces, dryers and other appliances also give off combustion pollutants when they are used. Finally, biological pollutants can be created when the pets shed, mold and mildew buildup in the damp places or if you bring them in from outside. For example, you can potentially bring in pollen, environmental tobacco smoke and pesticides on your shoes.

Symptoms that can be Caused by Indoor Air Pollutants

Poor indoor air quality can make you and other family members feel ill. It can cause watery eyes, coughing and sneezing. When the air quality is very poor, you may even suffer from headaches and upper respiratory congestion. In worst case scenarios, sufferers may even get nose bleeds more easily, have difficulty breathing or even develop a severe lung disease.

Because these symptoms are associated with other illnesses, you may not think about your indoor air quality when you are suffering these symptoms. However, if you feel better when you are away from home, then it may be worth taking steps to improve your indoor air quality.

Simple Ways to Reduce Indoor Pollutants

It is just a fact of life that you, your pets and your appliances will always be producing air pollutants. While you can certainly reduce the amount of some pollutants in your home, making your air permanently cleaner for the winter will involve your heater. Your heating equipment is responsible for circulating the air when your home is sealed off, so any pollutants that are in the home will have to pass through your heater first. As such, ensure that you clean or replace the filter once every 30 days during the winter. If you have a regular filter, you can upgrade to a HEPA filter, which collects smaller particles and prevents them from going back into the circulating air.

Another way you can improve your indoor air quality is to stop using products that leave pollutants in the air. For example, choosing to use green cleaning supplies and non-aerosol personal care products can reduce the amount of pollutants you are adding into the air. Additionally, if you are involved in hobbies that require paint or chemicals, working in a well-ventilated room, even if it is cold, will prevent you from breathing in the fumes. To keep biological pollutants at bay, you can up your vacuuming and dusting game to prevent a buildup of irritants. Shoes should be taken off outside or be left at the front door.

During the winter, it is important for everyone to be aware of their indoor air quality and how to combat them. By being vigilant, you can ensure that the air you are breathing while stuck indoors is clean.

 

The Importance of Humidity

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Many homeowners do not understand just how important the amount of humidity in their homes can be. The amount of moisture in the air can dictate how the inhabitants of a home may feel or even allow for certain unwanted organisms to grow within the home. However, maintaining humidity levels may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you are busy keeping your air conditioner, roof and gutters maintained. Regardless, adding the maintenance of humidity levels could greatly improve the way that you feel while hanging out at home.

 
Dealing with Dry Air

You may find that you suffer from dry sinuses, dry skin and chapped lips during the winter time or when the air becomes particularly dry during the summer. Dry indoor air can cause a person to suffer from nosebleeds, headaches and other associated illnesses.

The main way to increase the humidity level within the home is to purchase a humidifier. There are several different types of humidifiers available, including:

  • Install a Central Humidifier: These humidifiers are included as part of the home’s HVAC system and are designed to raise humidity levels throughout the home.
  • Impellar Humidifiers: These humidifiers have a rotating disk installed that produces a cool mist.
  • Steam Vaporizers: Electricity is used to create a cooling steam that is then released into the air. Because this device involves hot water, it is not recommended for households that have children or pets.
  • Ultrasonic Humidifiers: These devices use an ultrasonic vibration to produce a mist that increases humidity levels.
  • Evaporators: Air is blown through a wet material, which could be a wet filter, belt or wick.

Dealing with Damp Air

High humidity levels often becomes a problem during the summer time. Occupants who suffer from certain allergies may be more likely to suffer from respiratory problems or even asthma flare-ups. Further, dust mites, molds and bacteria can also grow within the home if the humidity levels are high enough.

There are several things that you can do to lower the humidity levels within the home:

  • Purchase a Dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers suck the excessive moisture from the air and collect it in a reservoir.
  • Install a Permanent Dehumidifier
  • Run the Air Conditioner: When air is forced through the air conditioner, the air is not only cooled but dried.

What are the Ideal Humidity Levels?

In general, humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. If the home does not have proper ventilation, the indoor air can become stale and dry. However, if too much moisture is added to the indoor air, the occupants of the home could also suffer from symptoms associated with the flu while the growth of harmful bacteria and other organic contaminants may be assisted.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that homeowners keep their indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. If you or another occupant suffer from allergies, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about what humidity levels would be right for you.

How do I Measure My Home’s Humidity Levels?

The device used to test humidity levels is called a hygrometer, which resembles a thermometer. While these devices can be purchased at any of your local hardware stores, many humidifiers also come equipped with a hygrometer to help keep indoor humidity at a healthy level. Hydrometers come in both analog forms and digital forms, both of which are simple to use and allow you to better control the conditions within your home.

 

Indoor Air Pollution: VOCs

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Indoor air pollution

 

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are man-made or natural chemicals that are emitted as gases, and are one of the major components of indoor air pollution. Many VOCs have been found to cause a number of adverse health effects on humans, including headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, allergic skin reaction, loss of coordination, damage to vital organ functions including the kidneys, and liver and nervous system. Many organic chemicals are also known carcinogens, and have been shown to cause cancer in animals. VOCs are emitted from a number of household items in low levels, including paint and paint strippers, furniture finishes, building materials, cleaning supplies, fuels and even cosmetics.
In several studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are found to be up to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. After applying new paint to interior walls, the concentration of VOCs in the home may be more than 1,000 times higher inside the home than out. New buildings are the worst offenders, as new building materials can contain high amounts of VOCs. Paints and other similar materials can continue to emit VOCs from days to years after its application.

Most dangerous VOCs and where they are found:

  • Found in paint strippers, aerosol spray cans and adhesive removers, methylene chloride have been found to cause cancer in animals.
  • Benzene is a carcinogen, or cancer causing agent, that is found in tobacco smoke, paint supplies and automobile emissions.
  • Perchloroethylene is a chemical used in dry-cleaning, and can remain on clothing for a long period of time, particularly if the clothing is brought home still damp.
  • Many new building materials, including paint, ceiling tiles, wall boards and even new upholstered furniture slowly emit formaldehyde over time.

How to reduce exposure to VOCs:

  • When using products that emit VOCs with the home, increase the building’s ventilation and provide fresh air.
  • All potentially hazardous products have warnings on their labels, which include how to reduce exposure to any hazardous materials from the product.

VOCs can still leak from closed paint cans and other VOC-emitting products. The EPA recommends purchasing these products in amounts that are used quickly or in smaller quantities, and safely discarding or recycling products that will not be used.

If any products containing VOCs do need to be stored, they should be contained in their original containers with as tight a seal as possible, and in a well-ventilated area out of reach of children and pets. Once a product has been opened, it should never be stored inside the home, as VOCs will still escape over time.

Many companies now offer paints with low or no VOCs. Water-based latex paints are constantly being improved in performance and durability, and are low-emitting after application.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely rid the home of VOCs. However, by choosing products that are certified “green” or have contain no VOCs and properly ventilating the home, the indoor level can be reduced, which will greatly improve the home’s indoor air quality.

 

Tips for Surviving Spring Allergies

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

4. Pollenallergy-suffering-woman-young-sick-ill-spring-using-tissue-nose-49402168With the weather finally warming up, it’s time to open the windows and spend some quality time outdoors. For those who suffer from severe spring allergies, however, this time of the year can lead to congestion, sneezing and sniffling. Not only can these symptoms make it difficult to breath, but sufferers also often have trouble concentrating in school or at work. Even if you are already on medication, there are several ways you can give your sinuses some relief.

Check Pollen Counts

When it comes to the amount of pollen in the air, some days are worse than others. If your allergies are severe enough, you may need to plan your outdoor activities with your local pollen count. Weather.com provides an allergen forecast that you can use to see your local pollen and mold levels. If the levels are high, you may want to workout indoors or choose another indoor activity for the day.

Change Your Clothing

Pollen particles can take a ride on your clothing and attach to your shoes. To reduce the amount of pollen you bring in to your home, consider changing out of your work or school clothing as soon as you get back. Leave your shoes by the door and deposit your clothes into a closed hamper so pollen and other contaminants are contained. This way, you won’t be tracking allergens around your house and onto your furniture.

Close Your Windows

If you are allergic to pollen, the last thing you want to do is allow the pollen particles into your home. Keeping your windows closed will keep the pollen out. On the days where the pollen count is low, throw those windows open and enjoy a fresh breeze through your home.

Install a Whole-Home Media Air Cleaner

The air you breathe inside your home could be the most polluted air you breathe all day. In fact the EPA has named indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. With the amount of time spent indoors, it’s no wonder so many people suffer from allergies, asthma and other illnesses. Check out some of the air purity products that we carry here. We also install UV Lights and other indoor air purity products.

Wear a Surgical Mask

While the idea of wearing a surgical mask seems silly, they can actually help keep pollen and other allergens out. In fact, people in many places around the world, such as Japan and Korea, utilize the masks to stay healthy when the pollen counts get high. These surgical masks now come in a variety of styles and colors so you can still look stylish while working in the garden. Look for the masks that are marked N95 as these have been shown to filter out 95 percent of pollen and other contaminants.

Take Care of Yourself

It is no secret that allergies can take a huge toll on your general well-being. Even though the symptoms can be annoying, brushing off your headache or congestion can be detrimental to your health. If your symptoms are making you feel ill or are preventing you from getting your work done, consider taking a sick day if possible. Pushing through can put unneeded stress on your body and actually cause you to get sick, making you feel worse than you already do.

Do You Actually Have Allergies?

If you live in an area that has versatile weather, the swing from cold to hot can cause bodily symptoms that are very similar to allergies. In general, you most likely have allergies if you only suffer the symptoms after spending the day outside or are around pollen and other triggers. If you are suffering from symptoms that last longer than two weeks or you’re suffering from aches and even fevers, you may actually be sick. Consider talking to your doctor.

No matter where you live, it is practically impossible to avoid spring allergies, especially if you live in an area where lots of plants grow. However, you can relieve your symptoms by being smart about staying away from allergens and triggering your allergies.

The Importance of Moisture During the Winter Season

Friday, February 5th, 2016

36. Drop of waterAlong with a string of holidays and vacations, the winter season often brings with it dry air, itchy skin and sore, scratchy throats. While you may believe that this is just something that must be dealt with each winter, that’s just not the case. There are many ways that you can increase the amount of moisture in your home.

 

The Importance of Moisture for Your Health

When the temperature drops, the amount of moisture in the air also decreases. This decrease in moisture is often accompanied by dry skin and stuffy noses, in addition to an increased risk of suffering from a sinus infection or cold. This is because the body needs a certain amount of moisture to properly function; for example, certain body fluids, such as mucous linings in your nose, mouth and throat, assist with taking air into the body. When the air is dry, any excess moisture from the body evaporates, leaving a dry nose, a scratchy throat and irritated skin. If your skin feels dry and you’re suffering common cold symptoms without actually feeling sick, it may be beneficial to increase the humidity in your home. 

Humidifiers

Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air is one of the easiest ways to increase indoor winter comfort. There are different types of humidifier available depending upon your personal needs. Some tabletop humidifiers simply release a mist into the air while others warm or cool the water before releasing it. For those who suffer chronic dryness, a whole house humidifier may be more appropriate. These humidifiers are installed as part of your home’s heating and cooling units, allowing the moisture to be added to the indoor air as it re-circulates. 

Alternative Ways to Increase Moisture in Your Home

While a humidifier can help remedy dry air inside your home, there are plenty of ways to increase the moisture level using every day items. Some of these ways include:

  • Leave water in the bathtub or sink after you’ve finished washing. Dry air will soak up any moisture available, so this is a great way to use leftover water. However, if you have kids or pets, this could be a drowning hazard if left unattended.
  • Decorate your home using bowls filled with water. While this is similar to leaving the water in the bathtub, using bowls allows you to add moisture in the air while removing the risk of drowning. Just make sure to keep the bowls out of reach of children or pets.
  • Hang damp clothes on a drying rack and let them air dry. Not only will you avoid making the air even drier by using a dryer, your damp clothes will help increase the moisture in the air.
  • Use the stove top to cook instead of the oven. Using the oven to cook can actually dry the air out while cooking with boiling water will add moisture. Making tea or other hot drinks can also help.

Dangers of Too Much Moisture

While moisture is absolutely essential in keeping you healthy and increasing your comfort during the winter months, it is possible to add too much moisture. Moisture allows for the growth of mold and bacteria, which can be harmful to a person’s health. Humidifiers are also notorious for being breeding grounds for mold; the mold spores can be released from the unit in a mist that is then breathed in by the home’s occupants. 

One way to avoid this is to use humidifiers only when the air becomes too dry. It is recommended that you purchase a hygrometer, which measures the amount of moisture in indoor air. Routinely cleaning the humidifier will also reduce the risk of growing harmful bacteria or mold.

 

Why Every Home Should Have an Air Purifier

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Your indoor air quality should always be on your radar. Homes that have poor indoor air quality are often difficult to breathe in and can result in general ill feelings and problems with asthma or allergies. One way to improve your indoor air quality is to find an air purifier that works for your home. An air purifier will help you breathe more easily and make your home feel more comfortable. 

 

What Does an Air Purifier Do?

Air purifiers are devices that help remove contaminants from the circulating air. Some of the contaminants that they help to remove can include pet dander, mold spores and dust, all of which can trigger allergies. Air purifiers can also help remove smoke particles and various volatile organic compounds, contaminants that contribute to sick building syndrome. Depending on the size of your home, you may opt for one that is stand-alone or one that can be installed as a part of your HVAC system.

Aprilaire Air Cleaners

Eliminating Allergies and Reducing Respiratory Problems

Allergens are always going to be present in your home. There are many people who are extremely sensitive to these allergens, especially young children. If you have pets in the home, for example, you may find yourself feeling slightly ill or even sneezing more than usual. An air purifier will filter out the dander from your circulating air so you don’t have to worry about breathing in your cat or dog’s dander.

Poor indoor air quality can also impact those who have respiratory illnesses or problems such as asthma. Attacks for some who have respiratory diseases can lead to loss of breath and can even be deadly in certain situations. By keeping the air quality within the living space as high as possible, families can reduce the potential for these attacks to occur while making it easier to breathe. 

Get Rid of Unpleasant Smells in the Home

Your home’s furniture, carpets and bedding can soak up odors from a wide variety of sources, making your home smell dirty. Sources could include, for example, dirty diapers, sports or gym equipment and even your pets. Some of the smells may even be coming from a neighboring home or apartment depending on where you live, meaning you may not feel like you have control over how your home smells. Because many people are very sensitive to these types of smells, a home that smells dirty can make it impossible to relax. When no amount of cleaning works to rid your home of that strange unpleasant odor, an air purifier can give your living space a boost of freshness.

Deal with the New Home Smell

If you’re moving into a home that has just been built, the home may still smell of new paint and new carpeting. While the smell may not necessarily be unpleasant, it can cause you to have headaches and exacerbate any health problems you or your family members may have. New carpeting, paint and even new furniture often have formaldehyde and other preservatives that are dangerous when breathed in for long periods of time. Even if your new home does not have much of an odor, VOCs can still be found in low-odor materials. 

Stay Happy and Healthy

Fresh, healthy air is important to your well-being. When you simply can’t properly ventilate your home by opening the windows due to poor outdoor air quality or cold weather, the right air purifier can give you some peace of mind knowing that the air that you’re breathing is still clean and healthy.

 

The Pros and Cons of Having Your Ducts Cleaned

Friday, November 6th, 2015

When professionals are hired to clean a home or business’s air ducts, they will not only clean the return-air grilles or registers and the interior of the ducts, they may also clean the air conditioning pump. In some cases, a disinfectant may also be used to kill any mold or bacteria that may be growing. While it seems like regularly cleaning a dirty duct makes sense, it is actually not clear if there are any pros or cons to having your ducts cleaned.

The Pros of Having Your Ducts Cleaned

Currently, there is no evidence that indicates that cleaning your air ducts is beneficial for either your heating and cooling systems or your health. However, one of the main reasons that homeowners often choose to have their ducts professionally cleaned is for peace of mind. Not only will the cleaning get rid of any dust, the professional is likely to spot any problems.

There are a few other possible advantages to duct cleanings, though it is important to note that these reasons are not substantiated. For example, duct cleanings may:

  • Increased HVAC equipment efficiency
  • A reduction in unpleasant odors
  • A reduction in the spread of mold spores throughout the home
  • Improved respiratory health

There are a few instances where you may wish to have your air ducts clean. For example, if you are moving into a new home, if your HVAC system sustained damages due to fire or flooding, there is evidence of pest infestation or if you have pets that shed, an air duct cleaning may be beneficial.

 

The Cons of Having Your Ducts Cleaned

 

There is also no evidence that indicates that a proper duct cleaning can negatively impact your health. It should be noted that dust and other contaminants often stick to the duct surfaces, never making it into the circulating air. Contaminants that can negatively impact your health are actually most likely brought indoors from outside.

Another potential problem is that the actual cleaning process can cause the contaminants and dust to be spread throughout the living space when they are disrupted. In some cases, it may be suggested that chemical biocides be used. These chemical biocides supposedly kill any microbiological contaminants that may be stuck in the decks and vents. However, the EPA notes that research into how these biocides can impact your indoor air quality is not complete.

 

Dusty Ducts could Indicate Problems with Your HVAC Systems

 

Although air ducts are likely to get a little bit dusty as the particles stick to the dust surface, your ducts should never get to the point where they are caked in dirt and grime. If your ducts are extremely dirty, it is likely that there are some other problems with your HVAC equipment. In order to prevent the buildup of dust and other contaminants, there are a couple things that you can do:

  • Use a high quality filter that traps particles. Make sure you replace or clean that filter as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Vacuum your home frequently to pick up dust and pet hair that may become trapped in your vents and ducts.
  • When you replace your air conditioner, consider replacing your air ducts.
  • Have your air conditioner or heater installed by a reputable contractor who will properly seal your ducts.

Ultimately, if you and your family are moving into a new home, have severe allergies or believe that your HVAC system is not working efficiently, you may wish to have your air ducts cleaned. Just be aware that more research is needed to determine whether or not there is a real advantage to having your ducts professionally cleaned.

 

What Are Odorless VOCs?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

As you may already know, VOCs are volatile organic compounds are molecules that get into your indoor air as they evaporate. While there are some VOCs that exist naturally, others are brought into the home during home refurbishment projects and everyday activities. Many VOCs have odors; homeowners often determine whether VOCs are harmful based on these odors. As a result, many companies, such as paint, carpeting or cleaning product companies, have turned to creating odorless products.

 

Are Odorless Products Harmful?

Unfortunately, products that claim to be odorless are not necessarily VOC-free. As an example, we can look at paint. As more homeowners have become aware that the paint vapors can contribute to poor indoor air quality, paint companies have been working to reduce the odors that are associated with paint. If you look at the label, however, you may see a warning that states that the product contains certain chemicals and vapors that can be extremely harmful to at-risk individuals, including young children and pregnant women.

There are certain products that are always going to have VOCs regardless of whether or not they have odors. The problem with low-odor products is that homeowners often do not realize that the product, whether that be an adhesive, paint or a cleaning product, may continue to give off odorless fumes for a long period of time after the product is applied.

Odorless Vapor

What are the Ways to Avoid Products with Odorless VOCs?

When you are purchasing products, such as cleaning materials, paint or craft supplies, the Environmental Protection Agency requires dangerous products to include certain words on the product labels. For easy reference, these words are:

  • Dangerous: This word indicates that the product can be extremely harmful or could even result in death if used without proper ventilation.
  • Warning: If a product has this word on the label, it can potentially result in injury or illness.
  • Caution: If this product gets on the skin or in the eyes, it can cause irritation.

Essentially, these signal words indicate that a product may have VOCs even if they do not have release an odor when used.

There are also certain chemicals that produce VOCs. For example, benzene, styrene, acetone and ethylene glycol all often have harmful VOCs associated with them. Because it can be very difficult to keep track of all of the chemicals that can decrease the quality of your indoor air, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a database that contains a list of all products that are sold. The database includes health hazards and whether or not vapors are released. This can be particularly helpful if you are unsure about the information on the product labels.

Odorless does not Mean that the Product is Harmless

It is always important to remember that certain products are just more likely to have VOCs and toxic chemicals. Even if the packaging claims that the product has a low odor, it is best to investigate what is actually in the product. If the product must be used, use the product in a well-ventilated area and that the product has some time to dry and dissipate.

Will My Home Ever be Free of VOCs?

Unfortunately, VOCs are found in such a wide variety of products that it is very difficult to avoid them. All homes normally have a background level that represents the normal amount of VOCs that are often found. However, using products that are more environmentally friendly can help to reduce the levels of VOCs that may be found in the air that you normally breathe.