The term VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, and is most commonly applied to industrial pollutants and emissions, as well as toxic vapors in the soil that infiltrate buildings through cracks and the inherent porosity of concrete.
However, there are many airborne compounds and substances which are not necessarily regulated by the EPA, but still reduce indoor air quality. They include things like air fresheners, oven cleaners and the fresh coat of paint you gave the living room.
Although there are many different types of VOCs, there is one commonality: VOCs cause long-term health problems for those who live with prolonged exposure.
Legal definitions of VOCs vary from state to state and country to country. Of greatest concern is the intrusion of volatile chemical gases in soil or groundwater into the indoor air of buildings. Underground storage tanks, gas stations, dry cleaners and industries of all types frequently release solvents and chemicals into the soil--both accidentally and intentionally. Examples of such VOCs include chlorinated solvents, trichloroethene (TCE), carbon tetrachloride, benzene and methane.
There are also many indoor air pollutants which don’t fall within the legal definition of VOCs, but are nonetheless damaging to your health. These pollutants can be man-made, such as the odorous vapor from fresh paint and solvents, or even from new carpet and furniture. One of the most common household VOCs is benzene, a carcinogenic gas found in cigarette smoke.
VOC's can also be naturally occurring, such as those from mold and fungi--which are responsible for the highest allergen levels of any naturally occurring VOCs. As you might expect, VOC concentration tends to be much higher indoors, especially in buildings which have poor ventilation.
You may have heard of the term "sick building syndrome." It's typically used to describe an office building where the workers seem to be chronically sick with something. The most common complaints are headaches, irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and a general malaise. Such ailments can be caused by toxic soil vapors infiltrating buildings and an unhealthy accumulation of indoor pollutants due to poor ventilation.
Unlike radon, which has no immediately identifiable characteristics, many VOCs are noticeable by foul smells or through the allergic or asthmatic reactions they trigger in many individuals. While the long-term health effects of VOC exposure are difficult to study, there is compelling evidence linking some VOCs to an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma.
Lifetime Radon Solutions provides more than just indoor radon testing and mitigation services, we are also an experienced provider of both residential and commercial VOC mitigation--also referred to as Vapor Intrusion (VI) mitigation.
Our technicians are trained to determine the extent of your VOC exposure and locate the most likely sources. Once we find the source of indoor air pollution, we create a custom sub-slab suction system designed for your building. Much like with a radon mitigation system, the VOC mitigation system neutralizes negative pressure in your home and safely vents the harmful gases and compounds outdoors. These systems have been shown to reduce indoor VOC levels by 80% to 90%. In some installations, particularly those with more porous soil composition, it is possible to achieve a 99% reduction in VOC levels.
Indoor air pollutants and VOCs can be extremely harmful to the health of family members and employees. A properly installed VOC mitigation system will make a noticeable difference in health of everyone who enters your home or business.
Contact the Milwaukee radon testing and mitigation experts at Lifetime Radon Solutions today to get your home, school or business tested.