Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) -- Indoor Air Pollutants: Where to Find Them and What to Do

Formaldehyde

Sources:

• Composite wood products, including particle board, fiberboard, and plywood.

• Furniture, cupboards, cabinets made from composite wood products.

• Upholstery

• Carpeting.

• Insulation.

• Paints and finishes.

• Glues, cleaners, waxes, and other household products.

Remedies:

• Choose building materials, that don’t contain urea formaldehyde; for example, solid wood instead of particleboard or medium density fiberboard.

• If solid wood is too expensive, use construction- grade (softwood) plywood, which uses more stable phenol formaldehyde glues, rather than finishing-grade plywood (hardwood) made with urea formaldehyde glues.

• Seal all exposed surfaces and edges on materials that are manufactured with high formaldehyde content. Use plastic laminates or multiple coats of low toxicity, water-based, acrylic sealers designed to reduce emissions from wood, gypsum board and grout, and to reduce the moisture permeability of surfaces. Aluminum foil inside cabinets is also an effective barrier.

• Improve the ventilation in your house.

• Use a heavy duty filter designed for formaldehyde removal.

• Buy spider plants to put in a room with formaldehyde.

Pesticides

Sources:

• Herbicide (weed killer, lawns and garden, turf, algae control).

• Insecticide (mosquito, flea, ant, roach, lice, mite, termite control; lawn treatment; pet products).

• Fungicide (paints, plastics, wood preservatives, grout, lawn treatment, carpet treatment).

Remedies:

• Do not treat soil under the building.

• Eliminate standard building products that contain biocides.

• If a pest must be eliminated, first see if its current access to nourishment and habitat can be limited. For example, if you have ants, you might clean up crumbs from the floor and counters and caulk the cracks.

• If a pest must be trapped or killed, consider the most benign methods first. Least toxic chemicals are employed as a last resort.

A well-renovated home will also be pest resistant because it incorporates the following features:

• Weather tightness.

• Appropriate grading and drainage.

• Provisions made for the prevention of excess moisture buildup from within, including extraction fans and windows that allow cross ventilation.

• Dry wood without rot or infestation used in construction.

• Exterior wood appropriately treated for prevailing climatic conditions.

• All openings screened.

• Ground cover, leaves, chip and wood piles, and other potential insect habitats kept at a distance from the building.

• Avoid carpeting where pesticides can become trapped for years, protected from degradation caused by sunlight and bacteria.

Vinyl Chloride

Sources:

• Municipal drinking waters.

• PVC pipes.

• Vinyl flooring.

• Adhesives.

• Swimming pools.

• Upholstery.

• Wall coverings.

• Countertops.

Remedies:

• Use natural linoleum instead of vinyl flooring.

• Avoid PVC piping.

• Use safer plastic alternatives, like melamine formaldehyde use in countertops.

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