Woman sitting near sofa with an air purifier
Tips & Advice, HVAC September 2022

Fighting the Unseen – VOCs and Indoor Air Quality For Homes and Businesses

Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog

Indoor air quality, or IAQ, should be a priority for HVAC professionals. By taking the time to assess your customer’s residential or commercial environments and offering solutions to improve air quality, you’ll not only help them live healthier lives, you’ll also introduce a new focus for your business. In particular, helping to control Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is an area of focus that can help eliminate lingering elements that decrease air quality.

How do VOC’s Tie Into Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality refers to the pollutants, temperature, humidity and other factors that affect the health and comfort of the people living, working or spending time in an indoor space. Dust, smoke, pollen, pet hair and germs — like viruses and bacteria — all impact indoor air quality, along with the air temperature and humidity.

VOCs make up one area of air quality that sometimes get overlooked, but fumes from paints, chemicals and detergents also impact indoor air quality. In fact, it makes up about 21% of the pollutants in indoor air.

Assess IAQ and Approach VOCs

While it would be great to have a handheld device that showed exactly what particulates were affecting the air in a home or office setting, the most effective approach is to assess the current system and recommend solutions to improve the air quality. That entails:

  • Assessing the filtration systems to ensure it can effectively remove the particulates such as dust, pollen and pet fur
  • Bringing in UV lights or bipolar ionization to destroy RNA and DNA of the viruses or encapsulate the viruses and capture it in the filter. They also help get rid of VOCs and gases
  • Ensure there is proper ventilation to bring in more fresh air and dilute VOCs and other pollutants in the air


Why VOCs Need Special Attention

Most of your customers might not realize that everyday products actually contain VOCs that linger and affect air quality. Some of the common VOCs that lurk in homes and businesses include benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene.

How do these toxic chemicals make their way into homes and work settings? There are a few common ways:

  • Renovating and redecorating can be responsible for lowering air quality by bringing in VOCs present in paint, carpets, upholstery and foams
  • While cleaning products do the job to address bacteria, they also have scent chemicals and gases that leave VOCs behind
  • Cooking and smoking also result in the proliferation of an array of VOCs

Immediate exposure may mean short-term irritation, such as itchy eyes, a sore throat, nausea and headaches. Long-term exposure may lead to cancers, neurological conditions, and yet unknown physical damage. Anyone with lung conditions such as asthma or COPD, as well as the very young and elderly may be at greater risk from VOCs.

Lowering the Impact of VOCs with UV Lights and Bipolar ionization

Aside from reducing the use of chemicals and products that release off-gas into indoor air, a well maintained HVAC system with additional features such as Ultraviolet Lights (UV Lights) and Bipolar ionization units, is an important defence.

Improving the home’s ventilation is important to ensure there is enough fresh air to reduce the concentration of VOCs. Some general systems that can help include HRVs or ERVs to bring in clean fresh air from the outside and push out pollutants while reclaiming energy from exhaust air to heat or cool fresh air

UV Lights and Bipolar ionization units are able to get into more of the smaller viruses, germs and gases, and can be added to almost any existing infrastructure. UV Lights take the method of a specific wavelength of ultraviolet light to neutralize even the smallest of microorganisms like off-gases. By doing this in the exchange of airflow, the microorganisms are stopped before they can re-enter the atmosphere.

In Bipolar ionization, there is a chemical reaction with the cell membrane surface to inactivate viruses. Airborne particulate particles are charged by the ions, which causes them to cluster and be caught by the home’s filtration system. Odours, gases and aerosols oxidize and are neutralized on contact with oxygen ions.

At the same time, maintaining a consistent temperature, including preventing the home from becoming too warm in the heat and reducing humidity is important in reducing the amount of chemical off-gas from carpets, upholstery and foam.

How Contractors Can Help Customers — Residential or Commercial

A quick review of the home or business will reveal where improvements can be made and open up a discussion. People have been seeking solutions to create better air quality for thousands of years. Your customers want to breathe better air, but they may not know what’s available.

Work with your Wolseley representative to have an inventory of solutions depending on your customer’s needs:

  • ERV and HRVs
  • Media air cleaners, duct-mounted HEPA filters and electronic air purifiers
  • Polarized Media Cleaners Upgrade filtration efficiency from MERV6 to MERV 16 in less than 15 minutes without tripping the fan or consume more energy
  • UV Lights and bipolar ionization units may reduce the harm of viruses and VOCs

You can find these products in great deals and pricing at Wolseley Express:

PremierOne Multivoltage UV Germicidal Air PurifierShop PremierOne Multi-voltage UV Germicidal Air Purifier

PremierOne Polarized Media CleanerShop PremierOne Polarized Media Cleaner

PremierOne Air Purifier with Odour ControlShop PremierOne Multivoltage UV Germicidal Air Purifier with Odor ControlAutoClean Self-Cleaning Needlepoint IonizerShop AutoClean Self-Cleaning Needlepoint Ionizer

There’s a huge, untapped demand for helping clients achieve a higher standard of indoor air quality. Clients are more aware than ever before. Start the conversation and seize the opportunity.

Wolseley can help with a complete integrated portfolio of indoor air quality products and solutions. Talk to your Wolseley representative to learn the best ways to promote, sell and install the most innovative solutions on the market, backed by technical support and excellent support.

To get all the latest news about trends and innovations in IAQ, be sure to sign up and become a Wolseley PRO. You’ll get the latest tips, promotions and more sent straight to your inbox. To learn more about products, training and upcoming webinars from products Wolseley carries, visit the Knowledge Hub.

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