Welcome Home

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Offgassing in Your Home

We Canadians are indoors more than a lot of people because of our climate’s relatively low temperatures, so the air we breathe in our homes and places of business is a particularly important factor in our overall health.

Much has been said about the impact of ‘offgassing’ - the release of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) through evaporation, emitted from many building materials and items in our homes - and its contribution to poor air quality in the home. Are you impacted by them?

Materials such as painted and sprayed finishes, insulation, flooring, cabinets, and countertops are popular contributors. Furniture made from particleboard or plywood is included, as is synthetic carpet. Because this offgassing evaporation process can continue for years after purchase, you are subjected to these chemicals long after that ‘new carpet’ smell goes away.

Thankfully, identifying the problem has led to many new solutions to dealing with the offending ‘offgassing’ materials and items, and options abound. So whether you are planning to redecorate or renovate, be sure you consider these tips to reduce or eliminate offgassing in your home;

Wood – use solid, untreated wood whenever possible. It costs more, but has no offgassing and adds value to your home.
Paint – choose low or no-VOC brands, available in a full range of colours and purposes.
Flooring – new or reused hardwood is a good choice, as are ceramic tile, stone, linoleum, cork and bamboo. Finish with a low or no-VOC stain and sealer.
Carpet – area rugs are preferable. Choose ones made of untreated, natural fibers.
Countertops - natural stone such as granite and marble or ceramic tile.
Furniture – covering should be natural fibers. Plus ask about the level of VOC’s in the stuffing and backing used.
If replacing offending items isn’t in the cards at the moment, you can drastically reduce offgassing from anything paintable by coating with a low-VOC sealer.