What is Offgassing?
Offgassing is the evaporation of volatile chemicals in non-metallic materials at normal atmospheric pressure. This means that building materials can release chemicals into the air through evaporation. This evaporation can continue for years after the products are initially installed which means you continue to breathe these chemicals as you work, sleep and relax in your home or office.
What Building Materials Offgass?
Materials such as paints, stains, varnishes, carpet, insulation, flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, plywood, particleboard, and paint strippers can produce significant offgassing in your home or office. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns about the health effects of poor Indoor Air Quality from the offgassing of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Can You Give Me an Example?
Everyone knows how bad most paints stains and varnishes smell; your instincts probably tell you the fumes are bad for you. Much of those fumes are from VOCs. But there are VOCs in less obvious products. For example, that film that accumulates on the windows on a new car. This film is the result of chemicals offgassing into the air and then condensing onto the windows to form the film. This same process is very likely going on in your home and workplace right now, and the chemicals are not only in the air and on the windows, they are in your lungs. Have you ever noticed how hard you have to rub to get that film off your windows?
For more information, visit:
» United States EPA: Sources of Indoor Air Pollution - Organic Gases (Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs)