Photo by Lauren Hinson © 2020-21
A HEALTHY HOME
- Poor indoor air quality can make you sick
- Off-gassing from items in your home can continue long after the “smell” is gone
- Look for finishes and furnishings with low emissions and VOCs
- Devices are available to detect harmful air pollutants in your home
Poor indoor air quality can make you very sick. Unfortunately, many people are getting sick from products in their own homes. You know that chemically smell from a fresh coat of paint, or new carpeting? That’s off-gassing, which is the airborne release of a chemical. The terrifying part about off-gassing is that even after “that smell” is gone, chemicals continue to be released into the air. Babies and small children seem to be the most at risk due to the fact that their physiological systems are not yet fully developed. One of the potential main sources of indoor air pollution is interior finishes (your flooring, carpeting, paint). Furniture constructed of particleboard & MDF can be a major source of formaldehyde. For those who don’t know, formaldehyde is a colorless gas that has been identified as a human carcinogen. Performance fabrics, known for their durability, contain polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been linked to testicular & kidney cancer.
So what do we do? How do we find things that are safe for our homes? Look for finishes and furnishings with low emissions and VOCs. Clare paint is a relatively new line that has beautiful colors and it was developed by an interior designer. The Benjamin Moore Aura line is also really good. Ceramic tile (paired with cement mortar & grout) is a nice flooring option in that it is pretty durable and it basically doesn’t produce any harmful emissions. When installing wall to wall carpeting, properly ventilate the room for 48-72 hours before settling in. Look for carpet with the Green Label Plus mark. Aim for natural materials, like wool (which is also very durable) or sisal. In terms of furniture, look for pieces made from steel and SOLID WOOD and cushions composed of CO2-injected foam. Antique and vintage pieces are great because they are much safer in terms of off-gassing. For bedding, I love Parachute. ABC Carpet & Home has really nice organic bedding as well.
Biological contaminants such as mold and bacteria can develop as a result of poor ventilation & moisture infiltration. Install a moisture sensing ventilation model in your bathroom. This device turns on automatically when it senses humidity. You can also install sensors for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and VOCs.
This information is not mean to scare you, it is meant to make you aware. Unfortunately manufacturers are not totally transparent about what is in their products. Hopefully you will feel a little more empowered in that you will know what to look for and what to try to avoid.