VOCs: A Lowdown
Maybe you’ve never come across these three letters before. But it’s a term that’s quickly gaining prominence in the global fight against air pollution. And for a good reason. So, let’s clear the air and shed some light on these sneaky pollutants.
VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. These are substances that evaporate quickly at room temperature and can be produced as emissions or through chemical reactions. As you can tell, that covers a broad range of substances.
Cigarette smoke: an obvious source of VOCs, but also one of many.
While there are many well-known VOCs; formaldehyde, benzene and toluene are found in greatest abundance. They are known to be in consumer products such as cigarettes, paints, adhesives, craft supplies, glue, moth repellents, building materials – you get the idea.
Source: the green divas
The next time you’re buying cleaning or household solutions at the supermarket, check the product labels; it’s a quick and easy way to spot VOC content. You might be surprised at what you learn.
Source: Hanson Lu on Unsplash
Think of the annual forest fires in Indonesia that cloak our cities in haze. That’s a smoky layer of VOCs and particulate matter getting spread through the air. But even everyday environments contain VOCs, some of which can’t be detected by human smell.
Even in our day-to-days, VOCs can linger undetected in our spaces (Source: Windows on Unsplash)
Now, VOCs are a common occurrence in nature, and not all of them are poisonous. But their properties, including turning to vapour easily in air, and low water solubility, makes it hard for us to know whether our present surroundings contain VOCs. Even harder is knowing whether they’re good or bad. And when they’re bad; they’re bad.
VOCs affect us primarily when inhaled or ingested in our bodies. Benzene damages the bone marrow, causing a decrease in red blood cells which leads to anaemia. Formaldehyde irritates the eyes, nose, throat and skin, and can cause cancer. Toluene damages the respiratory tract and central nervous system. Carbon disulphide damages the reproductive system. Butane depresses the central nervous system.
The effects of VOCs vary according to the intensity of exposure. Immediate exposure to VOCs leads to irritation in the eyes and respiratory tract, headache, fatigue, dizziness, blurring of sight. On the other end, well, see above.
So, bad VOCs are a problem. What can be done about it? Interestingly, a study has shown that the Dracaena plant can absorb up to 94% of acetone in the air. Perhaps in the future, indoor house plants will be the default cleanser for all VOC pollutants. But we still need a solution till then: let paint do the work.
Potted plants as your future air purifiers? Who knows?
“Wait, doesn’t paint contain a lot of VOCs?” cair is certified VOC-Free, so, it does not release VOCs into the air after applied to your walls. This greatly reduces off-gassing (the process of chemicals getting released into the air), so you’ll be enjoying cleaner air together with your new colours!
Being a VOC–free paint means we’re odourless as well. Remember the smell when you enter a newly painted room? The same kind which your brain associates to a new house, when getting new furniture or a freshly painted wall. The choking odour that keeps you from enjoying your new space sooner?
More than just being odourless, cair breaks down odours as well. Our paint purifies your air of existing VOCs and airborne pollutants, including bacteria and mould spores! (Can this be any more obvious as to why you’ve got to go with gush? 😀) With the paint that keeps your living spaces looking amazing while clearing the air of VOCs; now, you’re empowered to cair!
Enjoy clean air, whenever you're home.
How else can we stop VOCs? If you haven’t yet realized, there are plenty of products, from regular detergents to certain building materials, that contain VOCs. And to be honest, it’s not possible to completely stop using all these products just yet. But we can start together with cair.
Another suggestion is to swap to VOC-Free products where possible. Choose sustainable, safer options. Check the labels. For paints, choose VOC-Free instead of traditional kinds. (P.S: that’s us!) There’s a long list of materials to cover, but you can get started here. Bit by bit, you’re transforming your spaces, and the lives of yourself and your loved ones; by keeping VOCs out of the picture, and filling it with quality air instead.