The Hidden Danger Lurking in Your Home: What is Off-Gassing and How to Reduce It
You walk into your newly renovated living room, ready to relax on your brand new leather couch. But instead of comfort, your eyes and throat start to burn. That “new furniture smell” might seem harmless, but it's a sign of off-gassing - the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from everyday household items.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what exactly off-gassing is, where it comes from, the health impacts, and most importantly - what you can do about it. Read on to learn how to identify and reduce off-gassing in your home.
What is Off-Gassing?
Off-gassing refers to the release of gasses that are embedded in solid materials. It primarily concerns VOCs, which easily evaporate at room temperature.
VOCs themselves are carbon-based chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene glycol. They have a variety of uses as ingredients or byproducts in household goods. The “new scent” of products like cars, furniture, paint, and carpeting comes from the VOC mixtures specific to their makeup.
While VOCs facilitate manufacture and use, they also react and degrade in the air over time. Off-gassing describes this process as VOCs exit solid forms and enter the surrounding environment.
What Products Off-Gas in My Home?
A wide variety of common products off-gas VOCs, including:
Furniture: Couches, chairs, tables, and cabinets made from particleboard and manufactured wood panels contain glues, binders, and finishes that release formaldehyde. Mattresses and pillows made with polyurethane foam and synthetic materials are also off-gas.
Flooring: Carpeting, vinyl tiles, and laminate flooring are culprits. The adhesives used to install them bring VOCs.
Building Materials: Insulation, plywood, particleboard, and paints used in construction contain formaldehyde and benzene that slowly emit.
Cleaning Supplies: Air fresheners, all-purpose cleaners, and detergents contain chemical propellants and fragrances that vaporize easily.
Everyday Materials: Office supplies, printer ink, cosmetics, and scented candles also produce VOCs like acetone, chlorine, ethanol, and lead.
With so many VOC sources, it’s no wonder over 90% of American homes have unhealthy levels.
What Are the Health Effects of Off-gassing?
Exposure to specific VOCs repeatedly and over long periods increases risks for:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Headaches, dizziness, and nausea
- Liver and kidney damage
- Central nervous system impairment
- Cancer (formaldehyde)
Sensitive groups like children, seniors, and those with respiratory issues or autoimmune diseases have heightened vulnerability. Studies also show correlations between VOC exposure and disorders like childhood leukemia, asthma, allergies, and multiple chemical sensitivity.
While more research is still needed, it is clear VOCs have detrimental effects on health that build up over time. This silent threat hides in plain sight through household goods.
How to Identify and Reduce Off-Gassing at Home
While off-gassing occurs in almost every home, the extent varies based on products used and household members. Here are constructive steps you can take:
1. Carefully Select Products
When possible, choose solid wood/organic furniture, natural fiber textiles, natural rubber latex mattresses, and green cleaning products. Look for low/no VOC certifications from reputable third parties. Brands like GREENGUARD and Green Seal denote compliance with strict emissions standards.
2. Ventilate Properly
If introducing new VOC sources, ventilate the space extremely well beforehand. Weather permitting, keep windows open and use fans to circulate outdoor air in. Consider storing items outside or in a detached garage before moving inside.
3. Use Air Purifiers
Investing in a good quality air purifier greatly reduces VOC levels. Advanced filtration technologies from Coway like activated carbon filters and Green True HEPA are specifically designed to capture gaseous molecular contaminants. Be sure to place air purifiers in rooms with major VOC sources like living rooms and bedrooms.
Coway Airmega air purifiers exemplify the peak of innovation in this regard. With the Airmega Aim, for example, the dynamic 360° air intake system maximizes circulation efficiency. With intelligent sensors and innovative filter technologies, Coway air purifiers are the ultimate defense against indoor air pollution.
4. Monitor Air Quality
Use at-home monitors or professional testing services to track VOC levels. This allows you to pinpoint problem areas, assess product performance, and determine when ventilation or air purification should occur.
While off-gassing brings unnecessary health risks, accurate education and practical mitigation steps give homeowners back control. Do your research, make informed buying decisions, properly ventilate spaces, use air purifiers, and monitor air quality. Taking these actions will help provide cleaner indoor air and better protection for you and your family.
1Coway air purifiers have been proven to trap dust, pollen, dander, viruses and bacteria in the air based on KCL (Korea Conformity Laboratories) testing.They have been tested in a 30㎥ size chamber according to the Korea Air Cleaning Association standard (SPS-KACA 002-132:2022 Modified) to measure the 0.01㎛ size of particle removal rate. It was tested on maximum airflow speed in normal room temperature and humidity conditions. The performance may vary in the actual living environment of customers.
→ Tested with Airmega Aim, 100, 150, 160, AP-1216L, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 200M, Icon, IconS, 230, 240, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S, ProX
299.97% of viruses, bacteria, fungi and pollen were verified to be removed from the air for Coway air purifiers which have Green True HEPA™ filter applied based on the Japan Food Research Laboratories(JFRL) testing according to JEM 1467 standard.
→ Tested with Coway Airmega AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S
→ All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.
All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.
- Virus: Tested with Escherichia coli phage ΦX174 NBRC 103405, 60 minutes
- Bacteria: Tested with Staphylococcus epidermidis NBRC 12993, 60 minutes
- Fungi/Mold: Tested with Penicillium citrinum NBRC 6352, 60 minutes
- Pollen: Tested with Cedar Pollen extract, 60 minutes
3Aerosol test conducted in a Biosafety level 3 laboratory with two Coway air purifier models, Coway Airmega 250 and 400 for removal of SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol by US based MRI Global, a not-for-profit laboratory and partner of US Department of Defense. The test was conducted in a 13.1ft3 chamber. Virus was aerosolized for 15 minutes and the product was turned on high for 2 minutes. Result showed each product effectively removed over 99.98% of the SARS-CoV-2 in 2 minutes. This is a result from a laboratory experiment condition and result may vary in different conditions. This result does not imply it kills SARS-CoV-2 or prevents the transmission of Covid-19. Coway Airmega 250S and 400S are identical to the tested models and has equal performance with an additional mobile connectivity function.
4The concentration of ammonia, acetaldehyde and acetic acid were proven to be removed within 30 minutes by FCG Research Institute, Inc. Human Life Science Lab. It is not a demonstration result in the actual use space. Not all odors and gases may be supported. → Tested with Coway Airmega 150, 160, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 400, 400S
5The coverage area of the air purifier is based on an area where the air cleaner can make two air changes per hour (ACPH). An air change per hour translates to how many times an air purifier can clean an area, assuming the height of a ceiling to be 8 ft, in one hour. Therefore ** means two air changes per hour means that the cleaner can clean the area once every 30 minutes and * means air changes per hour means that the air purifier can clean the area once every 60 minutes.
10Terms and conditions apply. Discounts, including promotions, coupons, bundle discount and subscription discount, cannot be stacked on top of other coupons. During promotional periods, discount codes will not be able to be applied to orders. Promo codes may apply to products only—filters, accessories, and new products within 3 months of the release date are not included.