VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), are a large group of chemicals found in many products we use to build and maintain homes. They are released or “off-gas” into the indoor air we breathe. The odors may not always be detectable.

What are some of the sources of VOCs in San Diego?

Some of the biggest sources of VOCs are:

Building Materials

  • Paint, varnishes, caulks, adhesives
  • Carpet, vinyl flooring
  • Epoxy flooring
  • Composite wood products
  • Upholstery and foam

Home & Personal Care Products

  • Air fresheners, cleaning products
  • Cosmetics
  • Fuel oil, gasoline


  • Smoking,
  • Dry cleaning, photocopiers
  • Cooking, hobbies
  • Burning wood

How do I reduce the levels of VOCs in my home?

If you are concerned about VOC levels in your home, you can start by performing an inspection to identify common sources of VOCs. While conducting your inspection, look for supplies of unused chemicals, like paints, varnishes, solvents, adhesives and caulks. Household furnishings like carpet, upholstered furniture or items made from composite wood tend to off-gas more VOCs when they are new.

Steps to reduce your exposure to VOCs in San Diego include:

Source Control:

  1. Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation!
  • Remove or reduce the number of products in your home that give off VOCs
  • Only buy what you need when it comes to paints, solvents, adhesive and caulking materials.
  • Store unused chemicals in a garage or she to minimize the amount of time people spend around these items.
  • Dispose of unused chemicals in a garage or shed to minimize inhabitants’ exposure
  • When purchasing new items for your home, look for floor models that have been allowed to off-gas in the store. Solid wood items with low-emitting finishes will contain less VOCs than items made with composite wood.
  • Climate control

Ventilation and Climate Control

Increasing the amount of fresh air in your home will reduce the concentration of VOCs indoors.

  1. Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows. Use fans to maximize air brought in from the outside.
  • Keep both the temperature and relative humidity as low as possible or comfortable, Chemicals off-gas more in high temperatures and humidity.
  • Try to perform home renovations when the house is unoccupied or during seasons that will allow you to open doors and windows to increase ventilation.

How VOC exposure effects health

When inhaled, VOC exposure can have harmful and potentially fatal effects on humans.

Some of the most or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include:

  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Nose and throat discomfort
  • Headache
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Dyspnea
  • Declines in serum cholinesterase levels
  • Nausea
  • Emesis
  • Epistaxis
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Chronic exposure to higher levels of VOCs can also include:

  • Cancer,
  • Liver & kidney damage,
  • Central nervous system damage

Hazardous VOCs can have serious effects on your home or building and its inhabitants. If you are under the impression your home or building may contain VOCs, you should contact the experienced and professional technicians at Rarefied Air Environmental. We can help you test your building for harmful VOCs and develop a comprehensive remediation plan to protect your home or building and its inhabitants from harmful VOCs. Contact us today for a quote!

VOC Testing in San Diego