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Chemicals, VOCs and Cooking Odors

Chemicals, VOCs and Cooking Odors

Odors and gaseous contaminants can permeate throughout a structure, leading to a variety of potential health effects. When something stinks, you know it, but not all gaseous contaminants — including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — can be identified by smell alone.

VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids and liquids. According to the EPA, concentrations of VOCs are consistently higher indoors (from two to five times higher) than outdoors, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.

A variety of different VOCs may be in the indoor air at any one time, and they can come from a variety of sources:

  • Paints and lacquers
  • Paint strippers
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Pesticides
  • Graphic and craft materials, including glues and adhesives

Health effects of VOCs may include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, fatigue, liver, kidney and nervous system damage and allergic skin reactions.

In addition to removing the source of VOCs and other odors from your enclosure, diluting them with outdoor air via ventilation can help control them.

Even the most effective particulate air cleaning filter — a HEPA filter — will not remove odors and gaseous pollutants. Instead, specialized air filters using activated carbon are needed. Activated carbon looks and acts like a natural sponge. Activated carbon particles are highly porous and have a vast amount of surface area to capture and hold onto odor molecules.

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