Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Healthy Enough to Live In

Although our primary area of focus in design and on this blog has been in crafting an environmentally responsible house, we are also planning on making this one of the healthiest urban renovations anywhere in North America.

Most people do not realize that a new house or a typical major renovation is laden with all kinds of nasty chemicals – volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, pthalates, hormone disruptors, allergens...the list goes on.Formaldehyde is particularly omnipresent in our built environment. We all remember the use of formaldehyde from grade 10 science class to pickle frogs (that and my cute lab partner is about all I remember from grade 10 science). Formaldehyde is a very strong preservative, and beloved by paint manufacturers, adhesive makers, and chemical companies cum building materials suppliers of all stripes. It is also a known carcinogen and a potent allergen.

To cut down our exposure we are using zero VOC paints, natural oil and wax floor finishes (typical urethane floor finish has some of the highest emission rates of any building product), formaldehyde free sheet goods, and keeping a careful eye on any caulking and sealants used on the project.

Other healthy house initiatives include:

  • a whole house water purification system,
  • a very efficient heat recovery ventilator to bring in fresh air, and
  • a HEPA filtration system to help clean any of the nasties out of the air.
 We’ll be reporting more on our healthy house initiative as the project progresses.

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