What Are VOCs and Why Are They Dangerous?

VOCs can release dangerous toxins into the air, read on for why.

Any time that there is a water damage even in the home in East Alabama/Columbus areas, such as a spillover of water from a bathtub or washing machine, or a flooded basement, there is a risk of exposure to VOCs. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are known to cause health problems in humans. The VOCs are chemicals that can be released as hazardous compounds when water damaged materials in the home start to release chemicals based on being damaged by water.

For example, after a flood, VOCs can be released by water coming into contact with carpets that have been treated with chemicals, that are not expecting to have prolonged contact with floodwaters. When these chemicals break down and release toxins into the air, what you are breathing in are the hazardous VOC compounds that can be a threat to human health.

These compounds are generally classified as formaldehyde, pesticides, solvents and cleaning agents. The health hazard produced by VOCs include the following systems:

•    Conjunctival irritation
•    Nose and throat issues
•    Headaches
•    Allergic skin reactions
•    Nausea
•    Dizziness

Formaldehyde is classified as an indoor air pollutant. This compound is dangerous to breath in, and when it is wet it can release dangerous chemicals into the air. It is commonly used in sealants on kitchen cabinets, polyurethane sealants for wood floorings or for furniture sealants. It can also be found in upholstery, mattress ticking and in other finishing areas of a home.

It is known that VOCs are a serious human health hazard. The problem with VOCs is that at room temperature, the VOCs can be known to release harmful gasses and chemicals such as: benzene and perchloroethylene. In a flooded area of the home or office, VOCs can also be found in flood damaged:

•    Office equipment and copiers
•    Office supplies (permanent markers)
•    Chemical fluids
•    Personal items (hair spray, perfumes)

The EPA notes formaldehyde is a human carcinogen, which means it is dangerous and cancer- causing element or compound for anyone being exposed to these compounds or chemicals in a home or office environment. When plywood, paneling, fiberwood or particleboard in the home is treated with formaldehyde and then sustains water damage, the deadly chemicals can be released into the air.

For this reason, it is critical to choose the professionals for water damage restoration in the home, to be safe, and to minimize these risks after a flood or when experiencing water damage losses.