When the air quality in your home becomes ungodly and you’re forced to stay inside for fear of dropping a food item, getting a haircut, or both, you’ll understand why people are quickly becoming concerned about the health effects of indoor dust. It may not be as bad as you think. In fact, dust and other sooty pollutants can actually be good for your health in certain circumstances. Understanding how dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) affect your home will help you make healthier choices when it comes to setting up a workspace, entertaining guests, or simply relaxing at home. Let’s take a look at what VOCs are, their effects on the body, and how they may or may not be a problem for you depending on where you live.
What are VOCs?
VOCs are volatile chemicals that makeup air, food, and beverage products. They are found in most homes, offices, and garages, as well as in the atmosphere and the water supply. When compounds such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, and other chemicals are emitted from a structure or car engine, they become airborne and then lodge in the walls, floors, and other parts of the home. The majority of these chemicals have low acute toxicity (same as plutonium) and can be brushed off your body with the wind. When they make their way into your bloodstream, they can cause a variety of effects. Lower mobility. Digestion problems. increased risks of cancer. Reproductive disorders. Parkinson’s disease. Emotional effects. Changes in brain metabolism.
How VOCs affect the body
While dust can be harmful if it gets in your eyes, nose, or throat, the effects of VOCs are more complex. They are believed to be removed in the lungs, so the harmful effects of indoor dust may occur down the leg after a long day at work or at home. In fact, a 2005 study from the University of Western Ontario in Canada found that exposure to very low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air is not harmful to humans. High levels are thought to cause irritation and inflammation in the lungs. In indoor environments with high levels of pollutants, you may experience a variety of symptoms. You may have trouble sleeping. Your appetite may change. You may develop headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. Your skin may become blotchy and pink. Your eyes may become watery and painful to look at. Your Inchworm may develop inside of you.
The difference between dust and VOCs
Like many things in life, the difference between dust and VOCs is in the fine print. Although dust may contain dirt, a grainy powder, VOCs are, at their base, hydrocarbons. In dust, the carbo is bound together with chemicals to form a gas. In VOCs, carbon is the main component and the hydrocarbons are the byproducts of the carbon chain. Some VOCs, like benzene and to a lesser extent, toluene, are volatile at room temperature. In these cases, you’re likely breathing in more VOCs when you stay at home than when you’re out. However, most household products, including paint, stucco, and various cleaners, are made with volatile organic chemicals and are often released when a device such as a stove, clothes dryer, or BBQ fire is turned on. When these compounds are released into the air, they can travel long distances, breathing on us along the way.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Although there are no known health risks from breathing in dust, it’s important to understand the different effects of dust and VOCs and make sure you’re making healthy choices. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your way through the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful: Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) services are not a guarantee for a healthy smile. If you live in a region with a high risk of gum disease, you should probably consider getting some dentistry services. When hiring a plumber, make sure you ask about the safety of gas lines and burners. While there’s no evidence that these link to health problems, they’re still potentially harmful to your family’s health. Beeswax, meringue, and other flours are made of starch, water, and fat. When these compounds come in contact with your skin, they cause acne and, in some cases, ringworm. Gram Flour, Cake flour, and Plain flour are made of starch. Although they don’t contain fat, they’re also known to contain the “bad” nutrients that make us sick. Beer and other alcohol are fermented beverages and contain compounds that, at low levels, can be beneficial to your health. However, high levels of these compounds, like those in indoor air, can be harmful.
Dust and other sooty pollutants can be harmful to your health in certain circumstances. Understanding how dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) affect your home will help you make healthier choices when it comes to setting up a workspace, entertaining guests, or simply relaxing at home.
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