Throughout the manufacturing process various common household items such as furniture and clothing are exposed to harmful chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed by multiple forms of surfaces, especially porous materials and several are categorized as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These substances are known for causing irritation and possible allergic reactions in human beings and have also in the past been linked to more serious health conditions caused by prolonged exposure.
Items containing these harmful compounds release them through a process known as “off gassing” or “out gassing” and concentrations of these gases are quickly enhanced within confined areas. Off gassing ensues at an enhanced rate due to two core factors:
New furniture, clothing and other similar appliances contain a larger intensity of VOC’s.
This is a result of these items not being given the time in order to release these substances, causing the occurrence of these off gases to be elevated within new structures, after acquiring new furniture or after large refurbishments have been made on a building.
A large number of chemical processes are accelerated at higher temperatures including off gassing
According to several data reports collected from various indoor sites the presence of off gases appears to rise significantly during the warmer seasons when temperatures are higher.
Owing to a substantial development in global construction methods the occurrence of off gassing has become a more pertinent issue found within newer buildings. Older buildings tend to have been constructed with natural ventilation and sufficient window space resulting in the reduced build-up of air pollutants compared to newer buildings which have been created to be compact in order to improve energy efficiency. It is because of this ideal environment that pollutant levels have risen in spaces without appropriate ventilation.
Main Sources of Off-Gassing in Building Materials
While there are a variety of common indoor household items which release these chemicals into the air, certain products are known to distribute them more rapidly than others, such as the following examples:
Furniture Produced from Particle Board or Plywood
It is common knowledge that wood products contain and emit formaldehyde during their entire lifetime most of which is emitted during their first year. Formaldehyde is a type of VOC which can be highly aggravating on the eyes and the respiratory system and is also a carcinogen. Particle Board and plywood in particular have greater intensities of this substance due to their porous nature. This means that solid wood products and items which have had substantial time to off-gas are less severe in what they are emitting. It should be mentioned however that over a course of time off-gassing does slow down.
In many elements of electronic devices VOCs are released, this is especially prominent in insulation materials which have flame retardants. Considering this the rate of discharge is not only affected by the temperature of the room but also by the heat generated internally when these systems are in operation.
Mattresses, Carpets and Couches
In particular these items of furniture are very porous and contain large quantities of VOCs from the manufacturing process and may require extra ventilation for some time when newly purchased.
Paint also tends to rapidly release VOCs. As a result of this the out-gassing effect from the paint is significant within new constructions in particular as well as recently renovated spaces which have been repainted, however similar to the off-gassing effects of wood the emissions gradually decrease over time.
Possible Ways to Control Pollutant Accumulation Due to Off-Gassing
Remove the Source:
A simple solution for removing the source or reducing emissions is to use furniture produced from hardwood and low VOC paint for renovations and new homes.
This can be accomplished by controlling ventilation based on VOC measurements.
Filtering VOCs From the Air:
Using an air purifier, a HVAC system or through plants capable of absorbing VOCs.
VOC’s can be toxic with direct contact causing issues such as irritation in the eyes, nose and throat leading to coughing, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. One of the productions of off-gassing is plastic.
The outgassing of volatiles becomes accelerated when plastic is exposed to high temperatures or a vacuum, many different plastics have different outgassing performance such as PVC. Membrane technology use plastic in their generators which due to the elevated temperatures produce these harmful chemicals, which in an enclosed space can be particularly harmful.
Here at Apex, we use PSA technology for our generators which are not only manufactured without the use of plastic but also provide you with a number of benefits over membrane technology:
- Produces higher purity nitrogen
- More cost effective
- Continuous reliability of flow rates
To find out more about why you should choose an PSA technology over Membrane technology, follow the link below.