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Understanding the VOCs in Your Waste

Understanding the VOCs in Your Waste

by | Jun 27, 2019 | Blog, E-Waste, Helpful Tips

Ottawa Appliance Removal The ultimate Guide

Most homeowners know how to store potentially dangerous materials in their homes to keep their family safe — but they have no idea how to dispose of them safely.

Does your home contain any products with volatile organic compounds — more commonly known as VOCs? At Junk Ninja, we offer junk removal services to recycle your things and avoid the release of these harmful contaminants.

It’s essential to dispose of your waste and household items properly to prevent hazardous household waste from contaminating soil, water supplies, and even your indoor air.

After all, when you get rid of your unwanted belongings, it’s important to know where they will end up. Junk Ninja, for one, will take your things to a recycling centre where we address every item individually.

From e-waste to refrigerators and other scrap metal items, we recycle, donate or repurpose all of the things we collect.

We want you to know the importance of getting rid of your things responsibly — and how we can help you do so! Of course, to understand the importance of proper recycling, you need to understand the risks of mismanaged waste — the primary hazard being VOC emissions.

Understanding Volatile Organic Compounds: What Are VOCs?

what are VOCs?

The Government of Canada defines Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as “a large group of chemicals that are present in indoor and outdoor air.”

VOCs can be found in household items like new furnishings and carpets, and products like cleaners and sprays. They can also be released when items are left sitting on a landfill, where they become moist and react with other chemicals.

Thankfully we are on the right track as more and more people are making an effort to get rid of their things responsibly. According to Statista, volatile organic compound emissions decreased by almost 43 percent between 1990 and 2016.

Common VOCs Released by Waste

common VOCs

These are the most common VOCs emitted by household items — that said, when these items are recycled properly, it prevents these chemicals from wreaking havoc.

Toluene: Paint, Refrigerator

Benzene: Paint, Glue, Carpets & Gasoline

Ethylbenzene:  Ink, Paint, Insecticides, Synthetic Rubber

Formaldehyde: F0looring & plastics

Butanal: Barbeques, Stoves, Cigarettes & Burning Candles

It is important to note that VOCs get emitted by everyday products. These compounds include acetone (yes, in your nail polish among other polishes), carbon disulfate in chlorinated tap water, dichlorobenzene in deodorizers and mothballs, and ethanol and terpenes that are found in detergents and cleaners.

These Are the Things in Your Home That Release VOCs:

Where exactly do VOCs come from? The short answer — a lot of the things you’ve been meaning to get rid of in your home. Needless to say, it’s time to enlist our junk removal help.

The thing is, a lot of products only release VOCs when they sit at the landfill. You can prevent these emissions from happening by making sure these items are disposed of properly. This is where we come in to make sure all of these things are removed and recycled properly:


Appliances like stoves and barbeques release VOCs when used in and around your home — so imagine what happens when you send these appliances to a landfill. When recycled properly, these appliances are taken apart and treated so that VOCs aren’t emitted.

That said, when sentenced to a landfill, these appliances sit, take up space, and release harmful VOCs into the atmosphere. The common volatile organic compound released by appliances like barbeques, stoves and refrigerators is butanol.

This is why it’s so important to enlist the help of professional safe fridge removal services and other appliance recycling services. After all, when sitting in a landfill, appliances get heated up — and this only increases their VOC emissions.

The International Solid Waste Association revealed that “the heat generated by the biodegradation of organic solid wastes may promote the release of VOCs, especially in the case of sites which receive both biodegradable and plastic wastes.”

Yard Waste

We get it, making your garden beautiful is hard work and requires a lot of cleanup — but the waste your yard generates can be harmful to the environment if not treated properly.

When yard waste like fungi and bacteria breaks down, it releases microbial volatile organic compounds.

The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health sites acetic acid, acetone, limonene, benzene derivatives, hexane, pinenes, toluene, naphthalene, and xylene as VOCs that can come from this waste.

At Junk Ninja, we offer yard waste removal services to ensure that your yard waste is properly separated and disposed of.


Latex and alkyd (oil-based) paints release a wide variety of VOCs including formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene. In fact, paint has so many chemicals that it’s actually deemed household hazardous waste.

Because of this, paint needs to be brought to a depot to be properly disposed of. While we don’t dispose of hazardous waste, we do have a recycling guide that will let you know exactly where you can bring your paint and other household hazardous waste.


Coatings used for your new furniture will often contain VOCs. These coatings cause off-gassing, which is the process of releasing harmful chemicals into the air. What’s interesting, is that unlike other products these polishes emit less and less VOCs as the years pass.

Regardless, even if your furniture isn’t releasing harmful chemicals, there’s no need to keep this dated furniture in your home after 20 years. This is where our furniture removal services come in.

The Impacts of VOCs:

impact of VOCs

As a green company, Junk Ninja’s environmental vision is to keep your home and environment clean through eco-conscious junk removal practices. After all, VOCs impact both human health and the well-being of the environment.

VOCs Environmental Effects

Air Pollution: When items like refrigerators and barbeques get sent to the landfill, they release VOCs into the air over time. This impacts the overall air quality and can be detrimental to those living and working in the surrounding areas.

Ground Level Ozone Pollution: According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, when VOCs are released into the air, it contributes to ground-level ozone pollution — in other words, smog.

Soil Pollution: VOCs aren’t only released into the air; they also can get absorbed. The soil on landfills absorbs these chemicals, which takes a toll on the quality of fertilizer in the area.

Water Pollution: When soil absorbs these toxins, they can get transferred into a nearby water supply. If people in the area are drinking this water or utilizing it for food, it can be incredibly hazardous.

VOCS Human Health Effects

Respiratory Problems: As mentioned VOCs sometimes result in smog, which can worsen heart and respiratory conditions. Because VOCs contaminate indoor and outdoor air, when breathed in, these chemicals can also cause breathing problems and worsen conditions like asthma.

Irritation: Breathing in VOCs can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. Additionally, it can also irritate your skin, causing an allergic skin reaction.

Cancer Risks: According to The Government of Canada, while the levels of VOCs in homes remain low, exposure to high levels of formaldehyde and benzene has been linked to increased cancer risk. These higher levels of VOCs are more common in industrial atmospheres than residential ones.

The EPA confirms that VOC exposure can result in additional symptoms not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

VOCs prevention

Causes of VOCs:

Improper Recycling: When you don’t recycle items properly, they can get mismanaged and release these harmful toxins.

Tossing Harmful Waste into the Garbage: When you put harmful waste into your garbage, you are sending it to a landfill where it will be exposed to heat and other chemicals that trigger harmful VOC emissions.

Burning Waste: When you burn waste — especially yard waste — it releases VOCs, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.

How to Reduce VOC Emissions:

Recycling: When you bring items to a depot, you can trust that your things will be handled appropriately to reduce VOC emissions and other hazards.

Selling: If you don’t need it anymore, sell it instead of sending it to a landfill!

Donating: Your trash may be someone else’s treasure — instead of sending a used appliance to a landfill because you’ve replaced it, see if your local charity will accept it.

Retailers & Depots: Many cities have depots or retailers who take part in a Take it Back! Program. These depots and retailers will make sure your items are properly recycled.

Junk Removal: You can always enlist the help of our professional junk removal services! We are happy to take your things and bring them to our recycling center where we will make sure every item is addressed carefully.

All you have to do is book an appointment and we’ll give you a two-hour time slot — you’ll get a call 15 minutes before we arrive.

We’ll arrive on site and present you with a complimentary quote based on how much room your stuff will take in our truck. Then, we will haul everything away to bring it to our recycling centre where we will make sure your stuff is taken care of.

With our professional junk removal services, we are proud to serve the Ottawa area. Contact Junk Ninja for the following Junk Removal Services:- 


  Junk Removal                                             ➤ E-Waste Removal    

 Appliance Removal                                  ➤ Hot Tube Removal

 Furniture Removal                                    ➤ Yard Waste Removal

 Renovation Cleanup                               ➤ Deck Removal

 Hoarding Cleanup                                    ➤ E-State Cleanup

 Light Bulb Disposal                                  


Would you like to know more about the Ottawa Recycling, Removal, and Disposal Guide and also want to contribute to the fight against climate change? Find out what can be recycled in Ottawa, where to find recycling depots, and how to reduce your waste in this helpful guide.You can also check our Complete Guide to Junk Removal In Ottawa.


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