What The Heck Are V.O.C.’s?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have adverse health effects. Concentrations of VOC’s are up to ten times more concentrated indoors than outdoors. They’re emitted by a wide array of products such as paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment and adhesives. Organic chemicals are widely used in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals and all of these products can release organic compounds when in use. Of the many products used as interior furnishings, Carpet is among the lowest emitters of Volatile Organic Compounds. And even that number dissipates as new carpet is exposed to routine maintenance and the environment.

As examples, some relative emissions are:
Paints 100.0
Adhesives 72.5
Wall Coverings 8.3
Wood 1.0
Carpet 0.5
(with paints rated 100)

So-called new carpet odor is usually caused by minute but very odorous quantities of a by-product of the latex used in the back, 4-PCH, which is not harmful and will dissipate with good ventilation within days.

Moth resist agents used on wool carpets are increasingly applied using low (or zero) effluent techniques and, once applied, are totally safe to humans and pets.

Because wool carpets soil less rapidly than man-made fibers, the reduced use of cleaning chemicals makes a positive contribution to the environment.

Sick Building Syndrome is not related to the type of pile fiber used in carpets.

Carpets are not implicated in Legionnaire’s Disease.

Did you know…Wool actually assists in stabilizing the relative humidity in buildings by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity?

There are several gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels and by emissions from certain building components that pollute the indoor air. Among these gases are nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and formaldehyde. Scientific studies have shown that wool fibers absorb these gases, thereby purifying the indoor air and improving the health and well-being of building occupants. Wool chemically reacts with these gases, neutralizing and binding them irreversibly in structure.

Natural fiber backings, as in those made from jute or cotton, have a similar beneficial effect.

Nylon fibers have a much more limited ability to absorb these gases, having a much slower rate of absorption and being unable to reduce the final concentrations to the very low levels achieved by wool.

Heating of wool carpets — as in by underfloor central heating — does not cause significant quantities of the gases to be reemitted into the atmosphere.


About hemphillbrett
Floorcovering specialist

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