Is your TV farting? Silent, but violent product off-gassing.

I know you like to think your shit don't stink, but it does. So does your carpet, your t-shirt and your fridge. How? And why haven't you noticed it? Although some people experience severe migraines and sensitivities to this shit, the majority of us have simply adapted, or we do not have the survival mechanism yet wired in our brain to warn us that the unfamiliar, synthetic fragrances we are smelling are kicking our ass from the inside out .

Volatile organic compounds are chemicals with a high vapour pressure at room temperature. These little suckers are the focus of todays discussion. Even the most common products contain these chemicals, like personal care products (acetone, ethyl acetate) upholstered furniture (formaldehyde) and air conditioning/freezer refrigerants (freons). They emit toxic fumes simply when functioning "optimally".

To strengthen your VOC sass, I thought I would share some of the worst culprits, in addition to some tips to increase the air quality in your general vicinity. Fuck yeah, chemistry.

Here are just a few household items that off-gas, silently but violently.

Air Fresheners

Easily one of the most ridiculous products, specifically designed to ooze synthetic chemicals into your home and into your respiratory system. The NRDC notes that 75% of households now use these little head-ache causing poo stank disguisers. This is concerning, considering the majority of them contain phthalates, which are hormone disruptors that effect testosterone production, increase the likelihood of breast cancer and birth defects. Phthalates are also the main culprit in vinyl. Yay, phthalates! Sabotaging health and inspiring useless products since 1820.

If you are so concerned about your smell, perhaps your diet needs attention. Alternatively, steal some flowers from your neighbour's garden, or invest in some potent, high quality essential oils.


Brominated flame retardants were used in a plethora of products for the purpose of reducing flammability. They have since revealed their detrimental effects on humans and the environment. Although manufacturing and importing of products containing BFR's have been banned in Australia since 2007, there are over eighty types of commercially used BFR's present in our household electronics, from DVD players, air conditioning units to laptops. Another flame retardant, Triphenyl phosphate used in the insulation of wiring in our electronic goods, off-gases when your device heats up. The toxicity of this to humans is under constant research, with concerns around the VOC being a possible endocrine disruptor.

Dust sampling in workplaces has revealed that a space with air-conditioning and carpet floors increases the undesired retention of volatile compounds more than in comparison to open, air-con free, timber-floored spaces, which report a lower presence of VOC's.

Household cleaners

Most laundry cupboards are like a god damn VOC fiesta. Which is pretty creepy, considering what is approved for purchase and deemed safe (by often questionable regulatory bodies) to use in our house, on our clothes and washed into our ocean. The EPA has noted that pollutant levels can be up to five times higher inside homes, compared to outdoors. Yet, even with evidence to suggest high toxicity, of the 100'000 industrial chemicals in use today, only FIVE have ever been banned or restricted. These include asbestos (that old chestnut), polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent, chromium and chlorofluorocarbons. For less hectic alternatives to the brain-burning commercial crap, use eucalyptus oil, baking soda or vinegar. Without bacteria, we die, so ease up on the super hectic nuclear kitchen spray. You are only encouraging resilient germs.

You smelt it, you dealt it.

Take a look around your room and consider what toxic shit you may be exposing yourself to daily. Ideally, work towards an environment that is open air, timber floors and containing plants for the benefits of air filtration. Additionally, if this article freaks you out, just throw your tv out the window and take a hike.

Best plants for air quality

1. Chrysanthemum morifolium. Champion indoor air purifier, with NASA research finding that the plant can decrease the presence of ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene in the air.

2. Aloe vera. Removes formaldehyde from the environment.

3. Bamboo palm. So easy to grow, and a champion at filtering formaldehyde for a fresh af backyard.

A psychology obsessed, dive conservationist and business strategist. Charlie is a biophiliac on a mission to inspire intrinsic meaning in human-beings through a fascination with the complex systems of our universe.

Challenging the subjective norms we hold as a society with humour, she is an instigator behind VOX POPULI's mission to make it fashionable to give a fuck.