July 12, 2009

Why a Healthy House?

With all the rage about green building, why complicate things by adding the goal of a healthy house too? The answer is clear. Our health, and the health of our children, depends on it. The good news is that a healthy house does not have to be complicated. In fact, it can be quite simple.

Like many people, I have experienced the negative long-term health impacts of “modern” unhealthy construction practices, after spending years in a corporate “sick air building”. Back during the energy crisis of the 1970’s, the building had been sealed tight to preserve heat. Unfortunately, by the time I joined the firm, this “ziplock bag” environment also contained a toxic soup of black mold, cleaning chemicals and fragrances, printing ink particulates, and off-gassing formaldehyde –-- all kept constantly airborne for easy inhalation by the miracle of forced air heating and cooling.

Unfortunately, this dangerous situation repeats itself in our homes, schools and workplaces every day. The EPA tells us that the indoor air of a typical home is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside air, and much higher after construction and refinishing activities … from toxins lurking in paint, cabinetry glues and adhesives, floor finishes, carpeting, cleaning products, air fresheners… the list goes on. Worse yet, the off-gassing continues for months and even years after that “new paint or carpet” smell disappears. These pollutants can lead to severe health effects, including respiratory distress, headaches, dizziness and even anaphylactic shock. Thankfully, these problems are easy to avoid, if we are just informed.

After losing my youngest sister Jeannie to cancer in 2008, I committed myself to learning all that I could about healthy living environments. My personal mission is to demonstrate that healthy, green buildings are not only possible, but easily achievable if we just follow a few important guidelines. In the coming posts, I will share what I have learned, along with valuable resources, so that you can start living in a healthier home too.

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