Choosing Natural Building Materials for Improved Indoor Air Quality


Passive Home With Insulated Blocks

Photo by Michael Kolowich

There’s a good reason why everyone — not just people with allergies or chemical sensitivities — should live in a home with good indoor air quality. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where the air can be two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. Spending the vast majority of your day inhaling oxygen that’s full of germs and toxins can have a seriously negative impact on anyone’s health.

You might think building a green home automatically means you’re building one with good indoor air quality. That’s not necessarily the case. There’s no guarantee eco-friendly materials are also low in pollutants. And what you put in your home after construction can have an enormous impact on air quality. Here are three ways to ensure the air you’re breathing inside your home is as good as — or better than — the air you’re breathing outside.

How to Choose Green Building Materials

As you research green building materials, make sure you check their level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are chemicals that easily become gases and mix with the oxygen in your home. Among the top building products that contain VOCs: insulation, carpet, vinyl flooring, caulk, adhesives, paint and varnish.

The good news is that no- and low-VOC products are becoming much more common and they’re getting easier to find. Start your search by checking out Greenguard Certification and Green Seal, two websites that review and rate products based on their level of chemical emissions.

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