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Something Scary in the Air: What are VOCs?

by Alen Editor October 31, 2019



We’re here to rid your indoor air of all things spooky and sinister—to help you breathe better, avoid allergies, and defeat the menacing health effects of bad air.

But one type of air pollutant strikes fear into the hearts of people like no other. In fact, these toxins could be lurking all around you right now. EEK!

They’re called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, and unfortunately, they’re inside all kinds of household products from cleaners to paints to furniture. Worse, they’re also emitted by cooking and they’re found in outdoor pollution, especially wildfire smoke.

In short, VOCs are nasty—and they’re everywhere. 

“Have you ever pumped gas, had your clothes dry cleaned, or used chlorine bleach in your laundry or for disinfection?  Then you’re likely to have encountered VOCs…many of these chemicals are toxic and can pose human-health or ecological concerns.” - USGS 


VOCs are chemical gases emitted into the air from products or processes, according to the American Lung Association. They come from things like air fresheners, cleaning supplies, pesticides, paints and lacquers, paint strippers, varnishes, building materials, and even furnishings. VOCs are released from products into the home both during use and while stored.


“Breathing VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, can cause difficulty breathing and nausea and can damage the central nervous system as well as other organs,” explains the ALA. “ Some VOCs can cause cancer.


Experts recommend bringing fresh air into your home whenever possible. We’re also big fans of these healthier alternatives to chemical sources of VOCs:

  • Use natural and non-toxic cleaning products and laundry detergents. New York Magazine has shoppable recommendations for the best natural cleaning products.   
  • Select Low-VOC or No-VOC paints. Check out HGTV for tips on choosing low-VOC wallcovering and flooring options.
  • Avoid new MDF (particle board) furniture. Instead, opt for quality vintage furniture or new items made from solid wood or metal. According to Architectural Digest, the best place to shop for vintage furniture is Instagram.


Yes! Adding an air purifier, along with other steps, can control VOCs in your home

Alen’s air purifiers, paired with our True HEPA FreshPlus filter, offer outstanding protection against VOCs. With nearly three times more carbon than typical filters, Alen’s FreshPlus filters target VOCs and capture 99.97% of all harmful particles down to 0.3 microns while removing odors.

Think of an Alen purifier as your Ghostbusters trap for VOCs and other ghoulish pollutants. "Who you gonna call? Alen!"


Explore Alen’s versatile line of air purifiers for chemicals and cooking odors, including the award-winning BreatheSmart Classic (pictured with optional Graphite panel).


For more information on VOCs, see  The EPA on the Dangers of Volatile Organic Compounds 

Happy Halloween from Alen!

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