Chemicals are everywhere. From manufacturing to agriculture to the cleaning solutions we use inside of our own homes, it’s no secret that chemicals are used in just about every industry big and small.
Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to some of these chemicals can be dangerous to human health. What’s even worse: many of these chemicals can eventually find their way into our drinking water supplies.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs for short) are a group of chemicals that take the form of gas vapors in the air but can be dissolved into water as well. They’re found in tons of different industries, from automobiles to home cleaning products, and their prevalence means that they can ultimately make their way into your drinking water. In this blog, we’ll give you the lowdown on VOCs in tap water, and tell you how you can filter them out of your family’s drinking supply with innovative Nano Zero filtration technology using LARQ Pitcher PureVis and Bottle Filtered.
Where do VOCs come from?
Humans use VOCs in thousands of products. They’re perhaps most commonly known as air pollutants — after all, they come in a gaseous form when they’re in the air, which can affect air quality. However, VOCs can also be dissolved into water.
Unfortunately, this means that they can also enter our water supply in numerous ways, potentially affecting water quality.
These are just a few examples of where VOCs can come from:
- Agriculture. Pesticides and herbicides are chemicals that are commonly used in agriculture. Unfortunately, some of these common chemicals can emit VOCs that can enter the waterways via soil contamination.
- Storage tanks. Gasoline and other chemicals are sometimes stored in underground tanks. If those tanks leak, they can then contaminate the earth and even make their way to groundwater supplies.
- Household cleaning agents. VOCs can also be found in chemicals that you use around your own home, including paint and chlorine bleach. If these chemicals are not properly disposed of, they may then get into a water source.
- Auto emissions. Gasoline and diesel are both major sources of VOCs. These emissions can sometimes settle in waterways or be distributed via rainfall.
- Dry cleaning. Dry cleaning uses a chemical called perchloroethylene, a VOC that can sometimes contaminate water supplies if improperly disposed of or through leaks.
Health effects of VOCs in drinking water
Unfortunately, high and/or chronic exposure to VOCs is sometimes associated with a variety of adverse health effects.
Some short term effects that are associated with a high concentration of VOCs include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, breathing problems, and headaches.
Even scarier, if you are drinking from a contaminated water source and are exposed to these emissions in the long term, you may be more at risk for more serious and chronic health concerns.
For example, high levels of VOCs in the blood have been associated with liver and kidney damage, especially in populations that work with VOCs and are exposed at higher rates. Additionally, some researchers have linked chronic VOC exposure to nervous system damage. Finally, there is also evidence that certain VOCs are carcinogenic, and that chronic exposure to these chemicals may increase your risk of certain cancers.
How to keep your home and drinking water safe from VOCs
Because VOC exposure can be so dangerous to you and your family, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits for the amount allowed in your drinking water. Water suppliers need to test water samples regularly to ensure that these common contaminants do not exceed these limits. They use technology like activated carbon filtration to minimize the amount of VOCs that make their way from the water source to your taps.
However, these limits alone might not always be enough to guarantee that the water in your home is free of VOCs. For example, you may be more at risk of VOC contamination (and water contaminants in general) if your drinking water is sourced from a private well that isn’t treated by municipal services.
Other conditions can also increase your VOC exposure even if you are drinking from a treated water source. For example, researchers have found that VOC contamination may increase in areas that are affected by wildfires. VOCs are often found in high concentrations shortly after fires. An article published in Chemical & Engineering News reported that high levels of VOC contamination were widespread in the town of Paradise, California, the site of a massive and devastating wildfire in 2018. While high concentrations of VOCs weren’t found in the main pipes or in the treatment center, they did find them in connected service lines that distribute water. The researchers here believed that the high levels might have been due to the high temperatures from the fire that caused plastic pipes to leech contaminants.
So if you are concerned about VOC contamination, here’s the best solution: even if your water is treated, you should always run it through a filtration system at home as well!
LARQ Pitcher PureVis and Bottle Filtered use Nano Zero filtration technology, a powerful activated carbon filter that eliminates some of the most common contaminants that you may find in your drinking water including VOCs. Whether you’re on the go and need a portable filtering water bottle or want to filter all the water in your house with a countertop solution, these options give you peace of mind with every sip.
Finally, in addition to filtering VOCs out of your drinking water, it’s also worth considering the dangers of VOCs that might end up in your indoor air since certain cleaning products that you may use can contain these chemicals. Maintain good ventilation in your home by opening windows and allowing vapors to escape, especially if you are cleaning with products that contain VOCs or have recently bought new furniture that may be emitting these vapors. Additionally, choose low-VOC products when possible to minimize your family’s exposure to VOC emissions.
The bottom line is that VOCs are virtually everywhere, including in some of our drinking water sources and in various products found in our own homes. By filtering your tap water first and airing out your home regularly, you can minimize your family’s exposure to these common air and water pollutants.