Many products are claiming low or 0% VOC’s but what does all this mean? Should you be concerned about 'VOC exposure'?
What are VOC’s?VOC’s (Volatile organic compounds) are the chemical substances (including both man made and naturally occurring chemical compounds) that evaporate into the air from certain solids or liquids as they dry at room temperatures.
‘Organic’ refers to the chemical make up of the ingredients/ components and ‘Volatile’ refers to its evaporation into the air, making them easy to inhale.
Where are these VOC’s?These organic chemicals are used in many household products. This includes products such as paints, varnishes, cleaning products and many other household consumables.
All of these products can release VOC’s while you are using them, and, to some degree, even when they are stored. Exposure to many VOC’s are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.
How are we exposed to these VOC’s?Chemicals can enter our bodies through either breathing, touching or swallowing. This is known as exposure. Differences in age, health conditions, gender and level of exposure to other chemicals all affect potential effects of exposure to VOC’s. When it comes to VOC’s, effects to one’s health depends on the level of chemical toxicity, the amount of chemicals present in the air and how long the air is inhaled.
Why are they hazardous?Products that contain VOC’s, release hazardous vapours that not only affect humans and animals but also the environment. These VOC’s have varying health effects, some being short term and long term. Excessive exposure can cause allergic reactions, breathing and eye issues. Harmful VOC’s typically may not be acutely toxic for humans but have compounding long-term health effects.
Additionally, the gasses emitted affect the atmosphere, contributing to our current greenhouse gases issues.
So then, What is safe? Are There Any Alternatives?Thankfully, there are many legislative bodies that are intervening to reduce the dangers of VOC’s. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has issued a maximum criteria of 140g/L for coatings, and 100g/L for adhesives which has been in place since 2010, with this maximum criteria tightening more so since then.
Timber flooring is a stunning way of beautifying your home, and now there are a range of products that are either low in VOC's or completely VOC free and safe to use in your home. Choosing to opt for VOC free products, is one way you can contribute making a difference to the environment and to your long term health.
Talk your flooring experts to discuss what VOC free options you can use for your dream flooring!
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