Could you be suffering an allergic reaction to your computer monitor? How about your brand-new mattress and box spring? What about the kitchen cabinets and carpet in your brand new home? Many products release volatile organic compounds, (VOC or carbon-based chemicals) that are easily evaporated at room temperature. This is known as off-gassing, and can cause allergic reactions such as puffy, red, and watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, coughing, and asthma-like symptoms. Off-gassing can also cause skin irritations like rashes, itchiness, and hives.
Products such as new cars, toys and tennis balls can also produce off-gassing, such as that recognizable ‘new car smell’ for example. Adhesives, wallpaper, and paints are other easily identifiable because of the odors they give off.
But not all off-gassing produces an odor. A flame-retardant chemical used in the plastic of computer monitors begins evaporating from the heat of the monitor when it is turned on. Other odorless offenders include new furniture, cabinetry, and floor coverings.
Although it’s almost impossible today to avoid products that off-gas, there are some things you can do to reduce exposure to them. Experts suggest regularly moving the air in your home by opening doors and windows and using fans. Keeping the humidity low also helps, as many of the chemicals that evaporate, do so in high rates of heat and humidity. Before purchasing and installing a new carpet or products that contain solvents, adhesives, and exposed particleboard, request that item(s) be opened and left to air out somewhere in order to off-gas before installation in your home.
For industry workers, exposure to these chemicals can cause long-term health problems. Emergency Film Group’s Benzene, Toluene & Xylene offers safe handling and protective measures for workers and safe response procedures, as well as other critical information. To learn more, read here. . .