Beware of Bad Air in New Construction Homes

Dangerous chemicals in use

When constructing a new home, dozens of new things must be brought together in harmony. In addition to the chemicals that are usually referred to as “new house smell,” other building materials such as cabinetry, glues, finishes, carpets, and paints also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are typically unpleasant to the new residents.

What Exactly is VOC?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gasses that are released by some solids or liquids when they are exposed to heat or pressure. VOCs are made up of a number of compounds, some of which may have both short-term and long-term negative health impacts on human health.

Many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have consistently greater concentrations inside (up to 10 times more) than they do outside. VOCs are released by a diverse range of goods, some of which number in the thousands.

Natural and synthetic organic compounds are commonly employed as additives in consumer items. Organic solvents are found in many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby goods, as well as in many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby items. Organic compounds are used in the production of fuel. Every one of these things has the potential to emit chemical molecules while you are using them and, to a lesser extent, when they are being preserved.

Eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, are all possible health consequences. A number of chemical compounds have been shown to cause cancer in animals, while others are suspected or proven to cause cancer in humans.

The Health Effects of Volatile Organic Compounds

There is a wide range in the capacity of organic compounds to induce health impacts, ranging from those that are very poisonous to those that have no known health consequences. Similar to other pollutants, the intensity and character of the health effects will be determined by a variety of parameters, including the level of exposure and the length of time spent in the environment. Some people who have been exposed to certain organics report having eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, vision problems, and memory problems, among other things, right away.

Steps to Lower Your Exposure

  • When utilizing VOC-emitting items, increase ventilation.
  • Meet or exceed any label warnings.
  • Opened containers of unused paints and similar items should not be kept inside.
  • One of the most well-known VOCs, formaldehyde, is one of the few indoor air contaminants that can be easily detected.
  • Determine and, if workable, eliminate the source.
  • If removal is not possible, decrease exposure by applying a sealer to all surface layers of wall panels, cabinetry and other furniture.
  • To limit the demand for pesticides, use integrated pest control approaches.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions while using home items.
  • When using these items, make sure you have enough of fresh air.
  • Safely dispose of unwanted or little-used containers, and purchase in amounts that you will use quickly.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Never combine home care products unless specifically advised to do so on the label.

Opt for Low VOC Products

The best course of action is to prevent introducing pollutants into your house in the first place by purchasing low VOC products that are specifically made with VOC minimalization in mind. Following the construction of a VOC source, it is very difficult to dispose of the substance.

Protection from Fresh Air Mechanical Ventilation System

In this circumstance, your fresh air/mechanical ventilation system will provide you with protection. There are many different options, from something as basic as a bath fan that cycles on and off during the day to something as advanced as an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) with its own ducting system. In order to have good indoor air quality, whatever system was put in must be working properly.

Although many ventilation systems have been installed, a considerable proportion of them remain uncommissioned (like buying a suit off the rack and not having it tailored).

The first step in addressing poor air quality is to conduct an Air Quality Test to identify the sources of the contaminants. The next step is to determine whether or not the mechanical ventilation system is functioning correctly. We can measure real air flow rates with the use of a powered flow hood. Even the most sophisticated equipment and controls can only function effectively if they are set up correctly, which begins with accurate measurements.


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