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Thursday, 19 January 2017 16:05

The ABC's of Indoor Air Quality - VOCs

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are gases emitted by solids or liquids inside the home. The sources of VOCs in the home are numerous and include:
  • Household cleaning products
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Wood preservatives
  • Wax that contain organic solvents
  • Disinfectants
  • Cosmetics
  • Hobby products
All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and to a lesser degree when they are stored.The possible health effects of exposure to VOCs include:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination and nausea
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Some VOCs are also suspected carcinogens
The extent of the health effects depend on many factors such as the level and length of exposure. According to the EPA, concentrations of VOCs (https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality) indoors are up to 10 times higher than outdoors. So what can you do to limit your family's exposure to potentially harmful VOCs? The EPA recommends taking the following steps:
  • Use good ventilation when using products that emit VOCs
  • Read and follow product instructions and warnings carefully
  • Store opened containers of unused products in a safe location and ensure they are tightly sealed and not leaking
  • If a product is leaking, discard of the container as directed. Do not transfer the contents to another container
  • Plywood furniture and flooring should be sealed to reduce potential exposure to formaldehyde
Published in Indoor Air Quality
As the cold weather settles in a whole house humidifier can help make the air in your home healthier and more comfortable. However, as with the heating system, a humidifier needs regular maintenance to ensure it operates reliably. Here are some items to check:

1. Drain Line – Ensure it is clean and free of obstructions. Over time minerals and algae can buildup and clog the line.

2. Replace the Media Panel. The media panel, or water panel, works by mixing water with the flow of hot air from the furnace. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the panel at least twice a season. If you allow the media panel to stay in the humidifier for too long, it will reduce the performance of the unit and potentially harbor unhealthy mold and bacteria.

3. Clean the Fan. Also clean off the fan’s intake vent and enclosure.

4. Check the Solenoid Valve – The solenoid valve allows water to flow through to the humidifier. When the unit is operating, ensure the the valve is opening and that water is flowing.

Finally, when the warm weather returns in the spring, remember to turn off the humidifier and discard the used media panel.

Need help with your whole house humidifier? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can help with all your indoor air quality needs.



Published in Indoor Air Quality
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