Indoor Air Quality Problem: Strange Odors in the Home

Cleaning Products and Indoor Air Quality Problem

Understanding an Indoor Air Quality Problem

Is a strange odor in your home causing you concern? It could be a result of a home cleaning or personal hygiene product. If you use scented products in the home, such as air fresheners, laundry detergent, and personal care items, they could be the reason behind those chemical-like smells. In fact, a survey of selected consumer goods showed some of these products give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some VOCs have classification as toxic or hazardous substances. Most importantly, these aromatic compounds could be the source of IAQ problems.

VOCs and Indoor Air Quality Problems

Since some solids and liquids release volatile organic compounds that impact the health and wellbeing of building occupants, it’s important to find out for sure. Thousands of products contain these chemicals as they make up the ingredients in many household products. The release of VOCs occurs with the use of these products but also when stored and not in use. About 12 percent of the population report some sensitivity to these chemical compounds.

Household sources of VOCs include

  • paints and paint strippers
  • wood preservatives
  • pesticides
  • cleansers and disinfectants
  • air fresheners
  • stored fuels
  • dry-cleaned clothing

If you use these products, testing determines the concentration levels of VOCs in the home. The release of VOCs also happens during storage. Test kits are a fast and easy DIY solution to find out if these chemicals are causing unwanted odors in your home. Above all, testing kits get at the root of IAQ problems.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

The use of synthetic ingredients has been increasing over the years, especially in perfumes and cleaning products. These products contain an estimated 3,000+ fragrance ingredients. When you take into account that over 12 percent of the population suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) the resulting IAQ problems become significant. Indeed, the chemicals released by these products pose health issues to people with MCS.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates the cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and laundry products. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration oversees the personal care products. However, manufacturers are not forced to disclose some of the ingredients due to copyright and trade secret issues.

Some common compounds which may be toxic or unpleasant include:

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Acetone
  • Ethanol
  • benzaldehyde
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • pinene
  • benzyl acetate
  • ethyl acetate
  • isoamyl acetate
  • cymene
  • limonene

While these common compounds release VOCs, there are also hundreds of others in the products we use every day.

Formaldehyde Test Kit - Formaldehyde Indoor Air Quality Test Kit
Formaldehyde is found in the glue that hold household fixtures together.

After release from their source materials, these compounds also give rise to by-products. These could include gasses such as ozone, and formaldehyde. Likewise, these by-products also have adverse effects on health and hygiene as a result of an indoor air quality problem.

Testing for an IAQ Problem

The VOC problem is real, therefore, it is important to take people’s complaints about an indoor air quality problem seriously. In order to assess the exposure risks, it is necessary to test for these chemicals in and around the home. Do-It-Yourself screen tests and environmental diagnostic evaluations, help find indoor environmental contaminants in the home.

If you suspect you have an indoor air quality problem in your building, take action. Order a VOC test kit today or call us at  727-572-4550.