Breathe Easier: How to Limit Chemicals in Indoor Air
Exposure to chemicals has recently become a hot button issue with many consumers. Whether they are exposed to chemicals in food, household items, or personal care products, individuals are increasingly trying to limit their chemical exposure. And for good reason. Read on to learn why and how to limit chemicals in indoor air.
Air Pollution Levels Are Higher Indoors
One way to limit exposure to chemicals is through your contact with chemical pollutants in the air. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where air pollution levels are typically 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. That’s because the US doesn’t pose limits on indoor air pollution, and today’s more efficient and air-tight homes and buildings, such as schools, make it harder for chemicals in the air to escape, so they build up inside homes.
Pollutants Can Lead to Health Issues
The primary sources of this pollution are furnishings and building materials, which can release hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Some common VOCs you may have heard of are formaldehyde, limonene, and pinene, which are fragrances that smell like lemon and pine and can be irritants. Breathing these pollutants is linked to a variety of health problems, including allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, reproductive disorders, and some forms of cancer.
Children Are at a Higher Risk
Children are especially at risk of negative health effects due to poor indoor air quality because their immune and neurological systems are still developing. In order to protect children’s health, it is vital to limit their exposure to chemicals in homes, schools, and other indoor environments.
How to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
To help reduce indoor air pollution, parents, teachers and consumers should choose materials and products that release the fewest possible pollutants (also known as low-emitting products). A great way to do this is by choosing products that are GREENGUARD Certified, which means they have been screened for over 10,000 chemicals by UL, an independent third-party organization. GREENGUARD Gold Certified products offer stricter certification criteria for sensitive individuals, such as children and the elderly, and are ideal for use in children’s rooms, schools, and healthcare facilities. GREENGUARD Gold Certification is referenced by both The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building Rating System as a certification that promotes good indoor environments.
How do you find GREENGUARD Certified products? Go to UL’s Sustainable Product Guide to find products such as ECR4Kids’, which meet these low emissions criteria. Or, look for the GREENGUARD Gold Certification mark on ECR4Kids products. This mark demonstrates the manufacturer’s commitment to producing low-emitting products.
About the Author:
Sarah Partridge, Marketing Manager for UL’s Furniture business division, has worked in the marketing of products and services for the commercial interiors industry for more than 10 years. Sarah has expertise in the testing, inspection, and certification of furniture and furnishings, and recently achieved her LEED Green Associate credential.