In many South Tampa, Florida, homes, the indoor air is more polluted than the air outside. Modern homes have excellent insulation to increase energy savings. Unfortunately, this insulation can trap contaminants inside, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, xylene, acetone, toluene, and benzene. Over time, exposure to VOCs can lead to fatigue, dizziness, headaches, rashes, asthma symptoms, sore throats, sinus issues, and other health problems.

Although an air filter or air purifier can’t capture all VOCs, you can take steps to reduce your exposure. Here are some ways to get rid of VOCs and keep your indoor air quality high.

Use Natural Products When Possible

VOCs can come from carpeting, particle board, perfumes, cleaning products, air fresheners, certain fabrics, mattresses, paints, lacquers, solvents, upholstered furniture, foam insulation, adhesives, and more. Choose natural products and look for paints, varnishes, and building materials for your home’s interior that is VOC-free when possible.

Instead of using commercial air fresheners or cleaners that could be filled with VOCs, bake some cookies or a pie to make your home seem more welcoming. Make potpourri from spring flowers or place a few drops of an essential oil on the new air filter for your HVAC system when you replace it. You can also simmer orange slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or other pleasant-smelling substances on your stove.

Olive oil and lemon juice make an excellent wood furniture polish, and you can use a few drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle of water to prevent biological growth in your bathroom. Water and baking soda work well as an inexpensive cleaner.

Add Some Houseplants

Many houseplants can absorb volatile organic compounds because they use carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. Plants help people relax, and they make your home look more attractive and welcoming. For the best indoor air quality, keep one or two plants per room. Too much vegetation in one area could increase humidity and encourage biological growth. You should also look for plants that aren’t likely to cause allergies.

Aloe vera can help you get rid of benzene and formaldehyde. This succulent is easy to care for, and the gel inside it can heal cuts, burns and dry skin. Chrysanthemums can remove benzene from your home’s air as well. They have large blooms that come in a variety of colors. English ivy and peace lilies both thrive in low light, but peace lilies are poisonous for pets. Spider plants, Boston ferns, and lady palms are common plants for removing VOCs as well.

Ventilate Your Home

Without adequate ventilation, volatile organic compounds will accumulate in your home’s air over time, especially if it’s too insulated. You can remove bad smells, VOCs, and other common indoor air pollutants by getting rid of stale air and letting some fresh air into your home.

Open a window, use exhaust fans in your kitchen or your bathrooms, or have a mechanical ventilator installed by a service technician. An energy recovery ventilator or ERV works like a heat pump to transfer energy away from stale air before it leaves your home. That way, you can remove stale air without wasting energy or increasing your utility bills. An ERV can also increase the value of your home.

Store Substances with VOCs Carefully

If possible, place paint, solvents, fuel, cleaners, and other substances that may contain VOCs in a storage shed or a garage that’s not attached to your home. This will help you avoid exposure to volatile organic compounds from off-gassing over time, and you’ll still have access to supplies when you need them. If you need to use a storage area that’s attached to your home, seal any connections to your living area and make sure that air can’t travel between the spaces. Close all containers tightly, and only buy products that you plan to use soon.

Nuccio Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. has years of heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality experience. We’re a Trane Comfort Specialist dealer, and we can help you get rid of VOCs. For outstanding, friendly service, call us at 813-961-7895.

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