VOCs – Meet the Chemical Families

VOCs – volatile organic compounds

Used in products for their evaporative qualities, VOCs are a main contributor to indoor air pollution with levels 10x times higher in indoor air than out.

Considering the impact they have on the environment and atmosphere, one could infer the harm they might cause human lungs and bodies, especially at higher concentrations, but here are some details in case you need to be swayed to shop with less VOCs in mind.

These were chemicals I had majorly high levels of in OVERLOAD. The fact benzene and styrene are so prominent in our outdoor air made them virtually impossible to escape.

But don’t lose hope – there are many things you CAN do to lessen some of your exposure!

I was able to minimize mine by purchasing less toxic nail polishes & paints, ditching certain cleaners, hair care products and styrofoam containers and now I only purchase CARB II compliant plywood and particleboard (made with low/no formaldehyde).

Check out these details and then use some of the toolkits on our site like the MADE SAFE database to find less toxic products to bring into your home!

Uses: air fresheners, cleaning supplies, food containers, glue, hair spray, perfume, nail polish, paint, fuels

Function: solidify and evaporate liquids

Names: (most common) acetone, benzene, ethanol, formaldehyde, terpenes, toluene, styrene, xylene, 1,3-butadiene

How to Avoid Them: avoid aerosol products, replace solvent-based paints with water-based paints, increase indoor ventilation, look for low/no VOC label, don’t put hot foods or liquids in #6 containers

Health Impacts: central nervous system damage, reduced lung function, increased risk of cancer

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