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But what do you know about VOCs?
Last month, just across the bay from Marin, the City of Berkeley became the first in the nation to ban natural gas in new homes. In fact, Berkeley has led in environmental legislation. In 1977, Berkeley was the first in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. This January, the city banned single-use disposables, requiring restaurants to use to-go food ware that is compostable.
Why natural gas?
They banned natural gas because it contributes to greenhouse gases. According to the National Institute of Health, natural gas is among a number of volatile organic compounds that “easily become vapors and gases, released from many consumer products:
- Paints and thinners
- Hobby and craft supplies
- Dry cleaning fluids
- Wood preservatives
- Cleaners and disinfectants
- Moth repellants
- Air fresheners
- Building materials and furnishings
- Copy machines and printers
When VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides in the air, they form smog.”
Natural gas fuels stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers and furnaces. Each one of them can contribute to indoor air pollution and greenhouse gases, hence the ban.
Individuals with asthma, young children, and the elderly are often more susceptible to the effects of VOCs. Testing and measuring these compounds can be important to maintaining high quality indoor air. You may be surprised to learn that VOC concentrations inside the home can be up to 10 times higher than outside your home due to tightly sealed windows and doors.
Avoiding VOCs as much as possible is important because overexposure to VOC emissions can lead to or exacerbate respiratory problems and increase the risk of lung damage. Other issues that can result from exposure to excessive chemical emissions include:
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Eyes, nose and throat irritation
- Kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage
Most of you are probably familiar with the fact that VOCs are found in various cleaning products and paint. You may not know, however, that some VOCs release or off-gas for brief periods, while others may to that for years.
Greg Gellman, a realtor in Southern California developed a detailed resource on VOCs and how to avoid them. He shares them with his clients and explained, “I’ve always felt that I was compelled to offer more than just real estate advice to clients and friends. That is what has really led me to write this guide.”
We can all take steps to support a cleaner environment, inside and outside our homes. If you have questions, or would like to talk with us about our nontoxic, green, organic cleaning methods, or book an appointment, contact us today!