What You Need to Know About VOCs and Carpet Care

Due to the amount of time we spend indoors, indoor air quality (IAQ) is a growing concern for any facility manager. In the interest of energy efficiency, buildings are becoming more airtight, so that the air inside any building is re-circulating. When much of that circulating air is chemically infused with synthetic materials and VOCs, IAQ is a real issue.

What are VOCs?

VOCs are volatile organic compounds. “Volatile” means they are chemicals that evaporate easily at room temperature, and “organic” means they are carbon-based. Some may emit odors, but others are odorless. While some VOCs are harmless, many are irritants that can result in health issues such as headaches, eye or throat irritation, dizziness and aggravated allergies or asthma. Long-term exposure to some particularly harmful VOCs could have more serious health consequences.

When it comes to carpet care, VOCs hide in more places than you may think.

1. Carpets

The problem

Carpet acts as a giant filter for workplace air, collecting and trapping pollutants or other VOCs and preventing them from returning back into the air. While this filter is a good thing, if carpets aren’t cleaned regularly — and properly — those harmful particles cycle back into the air.

The solution

Frequent carpet cleaning can improve your IAQ as well by removing harmful particles trapped in carpet fibers. Several organizations like the EPA, the Carpet & Rug Institute and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) instruct that carpets should be cleaned for health first and appearance second. Cleaning your carpet regularly makes your workplace healthier for employees.

2. Cleaning chemicals

The problem

Cleaning your carpets regularly is ineffective for preventing VOCs and increasing the IAQ of your facility if the cleaning chemicals being used are emitting VOCs. Unfortunately, many carpet cleaners are designed for the appearance of clean, paying no attention to the safety of the chemicals and the VOCs. It’s even possible to worsen the IAQ of a facility with cleaning chemicals.

The solution

Not all cleaners are made equal, and it’s possible to find low- or VOC-free cleaners. Look for third-party green certifications to show that products have been tested for harmful VOCs and also do a good job of cleaning the carpet.

Knowing what to watch for and what small changes can be made will help keep VOCs at bay and your facility’s IAQ top notch. Learn more about how milliCare can eliminate VOCs in your carpets here.