What are VOCs?
Did you know that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside homes, schools and offices is often two to five times more polluted than outdoor air?
Chemical exposure from indoor air has been linked to eye, nose and throat irritation; headache; dizziness; nausea; coughing; wheezing; asthma; and even cancer. Children are naturally more susceptible to pollutants than adults are because they take in more air relative to body size, and because their developing organs and respiratory systems are more vulnerable to certain chemicals, particles and allergens. Even being closer to the ground causes children to breathe in more than their fair share of heavier airborne chemicals.1
Furniture, bedding and flooring are some of the products that can release potentially harmful chemicals into the air. These airborne chemicals are commonly referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and the evaporation of these chemicals is known as off-gassing.
There may be anywhere from 50 to hundreds of individual VOCs in indoor air at any one time. Some may produce objectionable odors at very low levels, but many have no noticeable smell. In spite of the dangers, there are currently no defined federal regulations protecting indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce potential chemical exposure and help your family breathe easier.2
The U.S. EPA names source control as the best strategy to reduce indoor air pollution and limit chemical exposure. Source control can include selecting products that have been certified for low chemical emissions.3
UL has tested more than 70,000 products for the presence of more than 12,000 chemicals to help ensure they are safe and healthy for indoor environments. Certified products are listed in the free GREENGUARD Product Guide.
“An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs),” EPA. Web: 9 May 2013.
“What Are VOCs?” Greenguard Environmental Institute.
“Remodeling Your Home? Have You Considered Indoor Air Quality?” EPA. Web: 9 May 2013.