Did you know that lighting a few candles or polishing the floor in your home can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air? Keeping VOCs out of your Nashville, Tennessee, home is essential to protecting your health. However, certain cleaning supplies, building materials, and candles are well known for polluting indoor air with VOCs. Here’s a look at five common sources of VOCs and how you can reduce them in your home.

What Are VOCs?

VOCs greatly impact the quality of air inside your home. Emitted from solids or liquids, VOCs are gases that are harmful to your health when inhaled. You probably don’t realize it when you breathe in VOCs because they’re clear. Pinpointing the source of VOCs in a home is crucial to getting rid of them.


Mothballs do a great job at keeping moths out of a home. However, you should know that the chemical in the mothballs that keeps the insects away is dichlorobenzene, which is a VOC. Instead of polluting your home with harmful gases, you can replace your mothballs with an alternative such as cedar chips that is equally effective.


Giving the inside of your home a fresh coat of paint may make the walls look a lot better, but if you use paint with toluene, this can lead to itchy eyes and a sore throat. Paint with toluene emits VOCs into the air, which is particularly harmful to those suffering from allergies or asthma. To avoid this problem, make sure you use paint that doesn’t contain this ingredient. Also, regardless of the paint you use, always open windows and doors to circulate fresh air throughout the home during your painting projects.


Many flooring materials such as carpets have a diverse range of VOCs in them, including ethylbenzene, xylenes, and styrene. Additionally, the padding and adhesives used when installing carpet tend to have VOCs in them. Letting carpets air out before installation is a great way to keep harmful gases to a minimum. You should also keep windows open in your home for at least 48 to 72 hours after installing carpet.

Scented Candles

A scented candle may do a great job at making your home smell good, but it can also negatively impact your health if it has VOCs in it such as limonene or butanal. Candles with lead wicks will also emit VOCs, which can affect your home’s indoor air quality. To keep your house smelling good without harming your health, always use candles made out of beeswax or soy. You should also make sure the candles have 100 percent cotton wicks.

Cleaners and Disinfectants

Cleaners and disinfectants are generally supposed to improve your health, not harm it, right? Well, that all depends on the types you use. If your cleaners or disinfectants have any of the following ingredients, they may be doing more harm than good:

  • Ethylene glycol.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds.
  • Butoxyethanol.
  • Ethylene oxide.
  • Propylene glycol.
  • Glutaraldehyde.
  • Pinene.
  • Ortho-phthalaldehyde.
  • Isopropyl alcohol.
  • Chloramines.

Next time you go shopping for cleaners and disinfectants, make sure the label reads "no VOCs," or check the label for any of the ingredients listed above. You can also make your own cleaners out of baking soda and white vinegar. Throw in a few drops of lemon juice and salt and you’ve got an effective cleaner and disinfectant. Vinegar is not an actual disinfectant, but it does kill E. coli and salmonella.

How to Reduce VOCs

In addition to minimizing your use of the common sources of VOCs mentioned above, you can also use an air purifier or ventilator to reduce them in your home. Today’s more advanced air purifiers and ventilators provide whole-home solutions to cleaner air. The Trane FreshEffects™ Energy Recovery Ventilator decreases odors and chemical vapors while eliminating naturally occurring gases. This system benefits tightly sealed homes.

Contact Bentley’s Air Conditioning at (615) 754-2665 for expert HVAC services and consultation. One of our comfort consultants can discuss how to improve your home’s indoor air quality.

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