VOCs are volatile organic compounds that are gases that have been released from products. These compounds cover a wide variety of chemicals that can have potential side effects on your health. 

Below, you can learn more about what VOCs are, the dangers, and ways to protect yourself against them. 

What Causes VOCs?

Some of the most common causes of VOCs include the following:

  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Cigarettes 
  • Disinfectants 
  • Pesticides 
  • Printers 
  • Air fresheners 

So, consumer products are the main culprit for causing VOCs to be released into the air. VOCs are also stronger in indoor areas, which makes you more susceptible to their effects while you’re in your home. 

This is largely due to how they’re released in so many common household items that you may use on a daily basis. 

Being Exposed to VOCs

When you’ve been exposed to VOCs, there are some common signs that can be short or long-term.

The more long-term health effects can include:

  • Cancer 
  • Nasal irritation 
  • Dizziness 
  • Problems with the central nervous system

People also commonly experience more short-term health adversities. These can include visual issues, respiratory irritation, and problems remembering things.

Those who smoke and use lots of household products are at a higher risk of experiencing the negative effects of VOCs. Furthermore, people who have asthma, or those with weaker immune systems, will be more sensitive to the health consequences mentioned above.

5 Steps to Minimize The Effects of VOCs

  1. Decrease Use of Certain Products – We recommend that you avoid purchasing too many household items, such as air fresheners and disinfectants, in bulk. It’s best to purchase what you need to use more immediately. 
    This also goes for things like paint and paint strippers.
  2. Dispose Toxic Household Products Correctly – Regardless of whether the containers on certain products are closed, the gases can still be released into the air. It’s best not to leave the containers and unfinished products in the regular garbage.

    See if your local community has a specific day for getting rid of toxic waste. If not, you’ll want to find a place where you can safely get rid of the chemicals.
  3. Keep the Air In Your Home Clean – One of the easiest ways to get rid of toxic particles in your home is to install an air purifier. They’re effective at finding the smallest microscopic particles and expelling them from the air indoors to keep you safe. 

    You can check out our reviews on the Dyson Pure Cool TP04 and Honeywell HPA300 air purifiers. They both work well for removing VOCs from the air indoors. 

    An alternative would be to keep the windows open more often. This lets in plenty of fresh air to help reduce the amount of chemicals floating around in your home.
  4. Check the Label – Most products that release harmful gases will provide you with labels that warn you of the exposure risks. Therefore, if you’re using a chemical product, it’s a good idea to read the label and follow the instructions on how and where to use it. 

    Some of these products mention that they should only be used outdoors. If you’ve gone ahead and started using the product indoors before reading the label, be sure to keep your home well ventilated by keeping the windows open for a while.
  5. Dry Cleaning – If you’ve just collected clothes from the dry cleaners, you may want to consider hanging them up somewhere that’s properly ventilated for a little while. This is especially the case if you notice that there’s an obvious smell coming from the freshly cleaned clothes. 

    Chemicals are used to clean the clothes and it can take some time for them to be cleared.


Are there low VOC products available?

Yes, and you can discover if they include low VOC levels by checking the label. This is common with things like paint.

Can second-hand smoking expose people to VOCs?

Both smoking and second-hand smoking leaves you more exposed to the health effects of VOCs. So, it’s recommended to avoid smoking in the home or near it.

Are VOCs released from products in storage?

Volatile organic compounds can still be released from products that are sitting in storage. The amount of gases being released may be lower, but it can still pollute the air.


VOCs are something that we can all be easily exposed to, without even knowing it. You can use the details found in this post to keep a closer eye on the types of products that can release VOCs, as well as how to deal with them. 

Since they can be emitted from some of the most common household items, we recommend that you keep your home well ventilated to reduce your risk of adverse health effects.