Can anything be done to mitigate the effects of breathing VOC's immediately after breathing them? We sleep in a room next to the driveway.

Asked by Leslie M. French
West Haven, CT

Our street is a state road with heavy traffic. Our air cleaner indicates that there are VOC's in the bedroom. I wake with a sore throat, especially when using the air conditioner.


Gregory Caplan

Answered by Gregory Caplan

Jamaica Plain, MA

Green Home Carpentry & Design

January 30, 2014

Hello Leslie I definitely hear your concern and the effects you are suffering… Greater than average proximity to a source of pollution always presents a challenge. I would suggest that you consider three elements that might contribute to the solution : 1) the air tightness of your sleeping area from the outdoors, 2) the air pressure in your sleeping area relative to the outdoors, 3) the ability of the air cleaner to address VOC components in the air in your sleeping area. Making sure the windows in your sleeping area.. and your whole home.. seal as tightly as possible when closed is the first line of defense. Also for this part of your strategy, let's pay attention to other possible air pathways, such as duct leakage that may communicate with the outdoors if you have ducting running in walls or attic that isn't assiduously sealed. Depending on your homes configuration and systems, there may be an opportunity to arrange ventilation so the air flow creates positive pressure in your sleeping area. This would tend to cause any leaks to force air from within your room towards the outdoors rather than the other way around. I have not studied these particular air cleaners but i know many offer an alert feature to indicate that some VOCs have been detected. I assume yours is such a unit. This may mean that the unit is telling you "there's pollution here I can't help you with!" Some air cleaners include a filter phase to reduce VOCs. One that is touted as doing so is: Sunpentown Heavy Duty Air Cleaner AC-2102 with HEPA, Carbon, VOC and TiO2 Filters. I would be glad to discuss further with you to get specifics of your situation and provide further guidance as a friendly gesture to a fellow New Englander. Write me at [email protected] if you kindly would to update me on the details.

Tagged In: VOC

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