For the most part,
builders, contractors, carpenters aren’t usually approached with the idea of building
a healthier home. Only a handful of homeowners have made it a considerable priority
because the consumer demand just hasn’t developed on a large scale, yet.
However, sensitive people with allergies or respiratory conditions
often request certain finishing materials. Most paint manufacturers have taken the initiative to produce safer materials.
Organizations, such as the American Lung Association, have developed programs
and guidelines for building healthier homes. Ultimately, however, the decision
to build with safer materials lies with the homeowner and the builder.
your house while it’s under construction often. Debris and dust can easily settle
into cracks and ductwork. It’s a good idea to cover forced air registers when
working in rooms and vacuum out all the ducts before you start finishing.
which types of finishing materials, like carpet and paint, can really make an
impact on the level of potential contaminates in the home.
Some carpets emit high (VOC) levels. Wood, ceramic and vinyl
flooring are now frequently recommended over carpets. The non-fiber floorings
have little or no VOC outgassing, clean up easily and don’t trap dust particles
Nylon and natural fiber carpet like wool and cotton outgas less. Before bringing
carpet into the house, unroll it completely and let it air out a few days
before bringing it in the house.
Some brands of paint may outgas harmful VOCs. Latex is generally less noxious
than oil-based or lacquered types.
Some heavy weave wallpapers may outgas. These styles of wallpaper may have formaldehyde
in the glue backing that may be released into the air over time.
In the past, formaldehyde outgassing from porous, interior grade pressed
wood cabinets, countertops and paneling was a problem. And here's how that is
safer, denser, "exterior grade" pressed wood is widely used.
wood that is laminated on both sides effectively seals in any gases.
safe, solid wood countertop product called Corian is also widely used.
is also a safe material, but costly.
that is built with fasteners, instead of glue, has less chance of outgassing.
After installing new finishing materials, ventilate the house. The biggest threats
to indoor air quality are VOCs. Anything with the “new smell” is probably emitting
harmful fumes. Open windows when possible to let any outgassing fumes dissipate.
Find out what your specific choices are regarding healthier building materials
and methods. Ask questions and compare products.
Read the provided material data sheets on products or request them from
retailers/manufacturers. This sheet lists all the ingredients put into the product
and should tell if the product contains any materials thought to be harmful.