Tips for Decoding VOC Labels on Cleaning Products

Using materials made from or that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a sure way to reduce your chances for LEED certification and building or remodeling a truly green habitable structure. However, some builders and fabricators forget that many of the cleaning solutions they recommend to their clients may also contain harmful VOCs that can have a significant impact on the quality of indoor air.

VOCs have been known to cause or contribute to a wide variety of health issues, including problems with respiratory and pulmonary systems and cognitive reactions in both children and adults. Recently, one manufacturer of cleaning solutions, Avmor, produced a helpful VOC primer about what to look for in green cleaning products.

  1. No VOCs – If product is certified as green and the label states that it contains no VOCs, this could be deceptive because it could only include VOCs that deplete the ozone or affect the atmosphere. These products may still include VOCs that negatively impact the health of people and pets.
  1. Low VOCs – Some cleaning products claim to be low in VOCs, but this depends on how the VOCs are measured. It is important to remember that VOC content does not necessarily reflect the amount of VOCs off-gassed from the solution. A true measurement is one that is based on VOC emissions that reduce indoor air quality.
  1. Certification – One problem with products that are “green certified” is that there is no single certifying organizations, and each one considers different factors on what makes a cleaning solution green. For example, some organizations look more at sustainability while others focus on the complete lifecycle, and yet others choose to prioritize indoor air quality. To find the best products, look for those that have two or more green certifications.
  1. Aerosols – The content and emission volume of cleaning products are not the only considerations when it comes to VOCs. It is also important to consider how the solution is packaged and delivered. For instance, solutions in aerosol containers atomize the VOC particles, making them smaller and lighter than they would otherwise be, which allows them to be inhaled more deeply into the lungs.

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