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Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds and Indoor Air Quality

Posted on April 07, 2014
by Susana Escamilla


There are several ways to know when your indoor air quality is not great. You may have symptoms that are unpleasant but when you leave the area the symptoms go away. Your environment might also feel hot and stuffy. There might not be enough ventilation in your indoor environment. The next way you can tell if there is an indoor air quality problem in your environment is if you smell musty odors. Those odors can be a sign that there might be mold or bacterial growth even if you do not see it. The smell is different and unpleasant and might be mVOC’s.

Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (mVOC’s) are the musty and unpleasant odors that you smell. There are more than two hundred different types of mVOC’s. mVOC’s are relevant in the indoor setting because it may imply whether a building is contaminated or if there are other aspects that need to be evaluated to pin point what is affecting the indoor air quality. Measures should be taken if you do smell these unpleasant odors because they might be associated with mold or bacterial growth and should be eliminated. Some examples that you may consider to eliminate the odors or bacterial growth is:

  • Professional HVAC system and air duct cleaning
  • Disengage any built in humidification devices within the HVAC system
  • Control humidity below 45% year round
  • Replace carpeting with a more synthetic floor system
  • Remove water damaged building materials
  • Improve airflow in the home or building by encouraging fresh air with windows open or with an air recovery system (HRV/ERV)

The video below by The Indoor Air Quality Association ¬†gives more information about mVOC’s and where you can find additional information on this subject.

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