Off Gassing of Materials

Have you ever walked into a place and left feeling ill to your stomach or just not quite right? Did you know that finish materials such as carpet, paint and flooring can emit off gassing which can cause numerous health issues.

Fortune 500 Companies are taking this seriously and creating products that omit low V.O.C’s Volatile Organic Compounds.

Most of the major paint Companies have products with low to non V.O.C’s paint in compliance with EPA standards. However some of these paints still contain fungicides and biocides which are used to extend shelf life: good for the paint: bad for your health. One popular brand of paint contains crystalline silica which has shown to produce cancer in rats and maybe in “humans”, this Company has been awarded the “Green Label”. After this product is applied these chemicals contaminate both indoor and outdoor air for up to five years and more.

Mold is another culprit, some health fears are real ranging from mild reactions to acute neurological disorders. Mold is considered to be one of the most dangerous indoor air pollutants. Quite a few of today’s construction products such as plywood and drywall provide nutrients necessary to support mold growth. Today’s tightly constructed buildings make escaping of moisture or evaporation difficult. This is a fact that most currently constructed buildings don’t breathe well, great energy savings, but very bad in becoming a breading ground for mold fungi.

Bamboo is an excellent choice for flooring due to a variety of reasons, mainly it is environmentally friendly. When selecting a bamboo floor the best species is Moso which is the hardest taking 5-7 years to harvest. Moisture control is critical in the manufacturing process 6-9% moisture content is industry standard. If a Company cannot guarantee the moisture levels in writing then don’t consider utilizing the product.

Wool carpet is a healthy non-toxic alternative to nylon or other synthetic materials that cause off gassing toxic chemicals. Wool is renewable, fire resistant air purifying and biodegradable.

Did you know New Zealand wool is the whitest and purest in the world?

Again, when you are renovating or taking on a major interior project keep in mind just because a product has low VOC’s it is not necessarily eco friendly.

Off-gassing can some times be odorless. Certain computer monitors emit a chemical – triphenyl phosphate that can cause allergic reactions per a study conducted at Stockholm University in Sweden. The study found this was contained in the monitor’s casings. The monitors’ heat caused the compound which is not boned to the plastic to start evaporating when the computer is turned on. Some tips on how to reduce off-gassing, periodically open the windows or utilize fans to help rid exhaust fumes. Formaldehyde emits off gassing when humidity and temperatures are high.

A suggestion to reduce the amount of formaldehyde is to keep the humidty below 45 percent.

58 | July 2010 | Atlantic Ave |

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