Housing directly affects everyone’s health, and conditions in our homes can cause or contribute to several diseases and conditions. Many common health hazards in housing are also environmental problems that can place young children, the elderly, and even the entire communities at greater risk.
Because most individuals spend so much time inside, our homes typically account for a major share of exposures to toxins, irritants, allergy aggravators and gases that can be severely harmful.
VOCs are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that readily vaporize into the air. When they enter the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone, which causes air pollution and a host of health issues including breathing problems, headache, burning, watery eyes and nausea. Some VOCs also have been linked to cancer, as well as kidney and liver damage.
Paints, varnishes, household cleaning agents, glue, inks and building materials.
VOC is known to cause lung related disorders, allergic disorders, watery eyes, runny nose, red eyes, cough, and throat irritation. Besides this it also lowers the levels of an infant’s immune system.
There are three main reasons why VOC concerns could prove to be fatal for a baby:
A baby’s lungs are still developing and therefore are more sensitive than an adult’s. In this phase of development, the lung tissue is more easily damaged and unlikely to recover even in adulthood.
The overall size of a baby’s’ lungs make them very susceptible to air quality ills. What would represent a small amount of air pollution for a pair of adult lungs would constitute a huge problem to underdeveloped lungs. Because of their small lung capacity, babies take many more breaths per hour than an adult, so they have greater exposure to air quality problems.
Young children spend the vast majority of their time at home and they are most vulnerable biologically. Children’s bodies take in proportionately greater amounts of environmental toxins than adults, and their rapidly developing organs are especially vulnerable to pollutants. Since children naturally crawl and play on the floor, they are in direct contact with areas where contaminants accumulate, and they are likely to ingest them through their normal hand-to-mouth behavior and play. Some of the harmful diseases that can occur are elevated blood lead levels, asthma, and other such respiratory diseases.
VOC predominately impairs the elderly lung function. They can cause lung or heart disease in adults. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can occur due to declining lung function.
Pregnancy is an important time to minimize exposure to VOCs. VOCs can impact a woman’s reproductive health by creating menstrual disorders, and later, by inducing high blood pressure during pregnancy.
VOCs in high concentrations can lower fertility in both men and women. The dry cleaning solvent perchloroethylene may enter breast milk and can be passed to the infant.
Consequences of exposure to high concentrations of VOCs can include miscarriage, low birth weight, birth defects, developmental disabilities, and a higher risk of cancer in children.
Ensuring good ventilation, controlling moisture and water damage, properly venting combustion appliances, and following basic measures to avoid exposure to toxins. In most cases, only modest changes in maintenance practices are needed to keep homes safe or to avoid inadvertently creating a hazard during renovation or remodeling. In some cases, low-cost improvements can be made that will significantly contribute to a healthy home. For example, every bathroom and kitchen should have an exhaust fan that is vented to the outside to remove moisture and reduce humidity. In addition, it makes sense to periodically check homes for clues to health hazards.
Paints that carry the Green Seal are guaranteed to meet precise environmental standards. Paints with this designation must have VOC contents below 100g/L for a non-flat finish and 50 g/L for a flat finish. The Green Seal VOC limit for primers and floor paints is also 100 g/L, while reflective wall coatings can’t exceed the 50 g/L mark. In addition to this there VOC certificates issued to those who manufacture Low VOC paint.
|Latex and Flat- finish Paints||Oil-based and All Other Paints|
|Low-VOC Paint||< 250 g/L||< 380 g/L|
|VOC-free Paint||< 5 g/L|