Green and Healthy: Make Your Home Both

Nurture the environment and safeguard your family's health.

| July/August 2010

  • Inert materials such as glass and ceramic don't outgas chemicals into the air.
  • Bring in plenty of sunlight and fresh air for a naturally healthy home.
  • Choosing products made with natural materials and nontoxic finishes is a good step toward creating a healthy home.
    Photo By Marshal Safron

Green products are often good for humans, but not always. “While ‘green’ has recently been redefined and expanded to include protection of human health, there is a difference between what’s good for the planet and directly good for people—or not,” says Allen Rathey, president of the Healthy House Institute (HHI). 

In a report recently published by Air Quality Sciences, an indoor air-quality testing and consulting agency, 84 percent of homeowners cited “having a healthier place to live” as among their most important reasons for buying green homes. Yet, the report says, many of them don’t understand how to control sources of indoor air pollutants and provide adequate ventilation and filtration. Tight houses are great for saving energy, but they can trap pollutants inside.

Fortunately, green and healthy can coincide in your home—if you heed the following advice.

Keep toxins out

Cleaning Products: Some cleaning products (even so-called “green” ones) contain terpenes, which can react with ozone in the air to form formaldehyde and other toxins. Terpenes are found in citrus oil-type solvent products. Rathey recommends purchasing from companies that disclose all ingredients.

Floor and Furniture Finishes: Synthetic, water-based polyurethane floor and furniture finishes often contain glycols, solvents that can take six months to completely outgas. “This is true even for finishes that say they are nontoxic and solvent-free,” says healthy home consultant Mary Cordaro. “If they contain glycols, you can expect to have to ventilate using fans or a fresh-air exchange.” Cordaro recommends natural floor finishes that don’t contain polyurethane, including Osmo, Auro and BioShield products.

7/3/2013 4:08:02 PM


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