How to remove VOC from air? 11 Methods to Remove VOCs

Painting a new home, buying a new car, and using lemon-scented disinfectants that don’t have a pungent odor—these seemingly harmless activities actually involve volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can affect health. Consequently, “how to remove VOC” has become a concern for many. This article will share what VOCs are and how to address them.

What are VOCs?

What are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a group of carbon-containing gases. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs are toxic chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.

These substances are prevalent in daily life, continuously releasing during a product’s lifecycle and significantly impacting indoor air quality.

Sometimes VOCs produce odors, but this doesn’t always indicate a health risk. In summary, VOCs are one of the most challenging toxins to avoid.

The EPA reports that indoor VOC concentrations are often higher than outdoor levels, potentially up to ten times higher. They originate from thousands of products, including new furniture, carpets, electronics, household cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, wood-burning stoves, cooking, tobacco smoke, and wildfire smoke.

When we detect a strong chemical smell, VOCs are usually present.

Common Sources of VOCs

Common Sources of VOCs

When we smell a strong chemical odor, VOCs are usually present. According to the EPA, VOCs come from a wide variety of sources, and almost every household product may contain VOCs.

Indoor VOC levels can be up to ten times higher than outdoor levels. Common sources include but are not limited to new furniture, carpets, electronics, household cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, wood-burning stoves, cooking, tobacco smoke, and wildfire smoke.

How Does Exposure to VOCs Affect Us?

Based on the previously mentioned points, VOCs continuously affect a person’s living space and quality of life 24/7. Specifically, the impact of VOCs can be divided into three major categories:

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor spaces are relatively enclosed and poorly ventilated, making VOC concentrations up to ten times higher than outdoor levels. This is a primary cause of sick building syndrome and other health issues.

Office workers or those who spend long hours in offices often suffer from this condition due to poor building ventilation, leading to the accumulation of VOCs, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Symptoms of sick building syndrome include eye irritation, itchy and swollen throat, nasal discomfort, headaches, rashes, nausea, fatigue, unexplained dizziness, shortness of breath, memory impairment, and lung discomfort.

Human Health

Even outside indoor spaces, we still inhale VOCs in our daily lives. The health impact depends on the concentration of VOCs in the air, exposure duration, and frequency. Even minimal exposure can cause health issues. The EPA reports that VOCs often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can further damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Other common symptoms include headaches, skin allergic reactions, fatigue, and dizziness.

Drinking Water

Most VOCs result from human activities in specific environments. As mentioned earlier, items like furniture and cleaners contain VOCs. When improperly disposed of, these VOCs can seep into the ground and reach groundwater through water, rain, and snow, ultimately contaminating drinking water sources.

Most VOCs do not cause severe health effects. However, some VOCs are highly toxic to humans, with longer exposure increasing the likelihood of severe symptoms, including dizziness, skin irritation, vomiting, and irritation of the throat, eyes, and nose. If not addressed promptly, they can also damage organs and the nervous system.

Further reading : How to choose the right chemical filter?

11 Methods to Remove VOCs

Although VOCs are pervasive in our daily lives, there are numerous ways to improve and control their levels. Here are 11 methods to consider:

Maintain Indoor Ventilation

Ventilation is crucial for new homes and individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities. Fresh paint, furniture, and adhesives can release large amounts of chemicals. Start by expelling indoor air outside, which may take several days to significantly reduce VOCs. Even after residing in a place for a while, it’s important to keep the indoor air ventilated regularly since these items can continue to emit harmful VOCs.

Clean Walls and Ceilings

This is one of the most effective and affordable measures. Tobacco smoke and cooking fumes can linger on wall surfaces. Regular cleaning can prevent the accumulation of these chemical substances, which otherwise form an invisible but severe source of indoor pollution.

Clean Carpets and Rugs

Carpets and rugs can harbor moisture, pet vomit, and urine, leading to strong odors indicating embedded dirt. While water and professional cleaners can help, moisture might worsen the smell. The best solution for thorough removal is to replace them entirely.

Place Indoor Plants that Absorb VOCs

Indoor plants can naturally and healthily reduce VOCs. Different plants absorb various VOCs. Common effective plants include:


All palm trees can absorb VOCs, with different species targeting different compounds like toluene, xylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.


Known for its ease of care, it can eliminate formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene.

Rubber Plants

Prefer indirect sunlight and are better suited to indoor environments, primarily removing formaldehyde.

Spider Plants

Can remove carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene. Their propagating stems can create a natural VOC filter.

Use Air Purifiers that Absorb VOCs

Most air purifiers come with HEPA filters that capture tiny particles but may not filter out odors. Activated carbon, which has a large surface area, can effectively filter common VOCs. Choose air purifiers with significant amounts of activated carbon to remove more VOCs and extend the purifier’s lifespan.

Central Air Conditioning Systems

For large spaces like businesses, hospitals, or malls, central air conditioning systems ensure consistent airflow. These systems often include additional facilities to effectively remove VOCs and odors, vital for large buildings where VOC levels can be much higher than outdoors.

Avoid Smoking Indoors

Cigarette smoke contains over 70 chemicals that can cause lung cancer, including formaldehyde and benzene. Even if smokers ventilate the room, secondhand smoke can seep into walls, floors, and furniture.

Choose Low VOC Products

Many products and furniture items are labeled “low VOC” or “no VOC.” These products contain fewer harmful chemicals, helping to reduce indoor VOC concentrations.

Proper Storage of VOC-Containing Products

To prevent VOCs from entering indoor air, store products in their original containers in well-ventilated areas, away from heat and humidity to minimize VOC release.

Careful Use of Chemicals

Some household cleaners come with instructions against mixing with other products or specific material applications to avoid dangerous gas or volatile reactions. Store them as directed to prevent children and pets from exposure.

Consult IAQ Experts

For comprehensive solutions to indoor VOC and odor issues, contacting experts in indoor air quality (IAQ) is beneficial. Professional IAQ specialists can conduct necessary tests, identify the root causes, and provide customized solutions that meet your needs and budget.

By implementing these methods, you can significantly reduce the presence of VOCs in your living and working environments, improving overall air quality and health.

About Getek
Contact Us!

How to Remove VOCs | FAQ

The best choice for chemical filtration|Getek

If you have chemical filtration needs or IAQ issues, please don’t hesitate to contact Getek! We have R&D Center, professional laboratory, cutting-edge tech, high quality filters, customized ability, test reports, certifications, awards, and patents.

Forward as one – Sustainable Clean Air Solution – Getek.

About Getek
Contact Us!