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What Are VOCs and How to Remove Them

Volatile Organic Compounds come from a variety of sources, including the pictured spray paint. Alen air purifiers remove VOCs from indoor air 
Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs) are toxic airborne chemicals that pose multiple health hazards. Unfortunately, they come from a vast range of sources, including popular cleaning products, fragrances, furniture, and paint, among many others. The good news is that it’s possible to remove VOCs from your indoor air. This article provides a deeper understanding of VOCs plus several ways to eliminate them.


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA), VOCs are toxic chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects.

VOCs have become basic ingredients in many everyday products and materials. For that reason, they’re one of the hardest toxins to avoid. Worse, few types of contaminants carry as many health implications. 

Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors,” reports the EPA. “VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands,” 

But don’t panic! There are plenty of ways to keep VOCs out of your home. 

Before we talk about how to eliminate and avoid VOCs, let’s look at where they're found. The answers may surprise you. Many common household products are packed with VOCs. So, simply removing them is your best first step.


VOCs come from a staggering variety of places, including household cleaners and disinfectants, air fresheners, and aerosol sprays. Smoke from wood-burning stoves, tobacco, and wildfires also contains VOCs. So do most paints and glues.

 Often, VOCs are present when you can smell a strong chemical scent. That’s especially true for new furniture, carpet, and electronics, which release VOCs in a process called off-gassing.

The most notorious VOCs include formaldehyde, benzene, and butanol.

Here are the top sources of household VOCs, according to the EPA:

  • paints, paint strippers, and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • aerosol sprays
  • cleansers and disinfectants (bleach and ammonia)
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • pesticide
  • building materials and furnishings (especially particle board furniture)
  • office equipment such as copiers and printers
  • glues, adhesives, and permanent markers


According to the American Lung Association VOCs are “harmful by themselves, including some that cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form other air pollutants after they are in the air.”

The EPA reports that VOCs often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

Other common symptoms include:

  • frequent headaches
  • allergic skin reaction
  • fatigue
  • dizziness


The good news is that there are three easy and effective ways to ensure your indoor environment is healthy and free of VOCs.

  1. Control and remove the sources of VOCs: Simply eliminating the sources of VOC vapors should be your first step. For example, avoid harsh chemical cleaners and store things like paint, fuel, and chemicals far away from your living space. Choose nontoxic cleaning products and shop for low or no-VOC paints and finishes.
  1. Use as directed: Never mix chemicals such as household cleaners, unless directed to do so on the label. Always store household products that contain chemicals according to manufacturers' instructions. And keep all products away from children!
  1. Bring in fresh air: A little fresh air is always a good thing, according to the EPA. Increasing ventilation may be especially beneficial in modern, energy-efficient homes and apartments, which are built relatively airtight to save on energy costs but can end up circulating VOCs. But be aware that outdoor air also introduces new particles like pollen and air pollution, which can trigger allergy or asthma symptoms, as well as other respiratory issues.
  1. Get a True HEPA air purifier for VOCs: For a truly healthy indoor environment, you must remove VOC chemical particles, not to mention allergens and other irritants from outside. You'll need an air purifier with appropriate capacity for your room that's equipped with a True HEPA Carbon filter. We can help.


Every Alen Air purifier captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants and particles down to 0.3 microns (56x times smaller than a human hair), improving indoor air quality and lowering pollution levels.

Our proprietary Carbon FreshPlus filters target VOC chemicals, dangerous fine particles, and odors. Their added layer of carbon contains microscopic cracks and holes which trap and remove airborne odors, gases, and chemicals.

But we don’t stop there.

What makes Alen genuinely different? (Hint: The same reasons that earn Alen thousands of 5-star customer reviews) Our personalized purifiers are:

  • Livable – Circulate more clean air throughout your room more quietly than competitors (up to 200%). And relax to BreatheSmart’s soothing pink noise frequency (proven to improve sleep).
  • Customizable – Choose from a variety of sizes and colors to suit your space.
  • Guaranteed for Life –Alen offers the industry’s only limited lifetime warranty backed by an expert in-house customer support team for lifetime peace of mind.

  best air purifier for VOCs, Alen FIT50

The quiet yet powerful, the BreatheSmart FIT50 (pictured with optional Brushed Stainless cover) purifies up to 900 SqFt. It’s equipped with Alen’s FreshPlus Carbon True HEPA filter.

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