Building Materials Might Be Affecting Your Health

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 7:35 PM


Is your home affecting the quality of your indoor air?

As we discuss indoor air pollution and how it affects us, we need to start by recognizing indoor air pollutants in our homes. A major contributor to poor indoor quality is building materials and paint products, especially in homes built before 1978. Old or new, certain building products often give off gases that, as they age, become harmful to indoor air quality. Most common is formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds and if using multiple building materials together the fumes could mix several different chemical fumes.  Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals are emitted by paints, adhesives and even cleaning products as they age in our homes.

Older buildings (built before 1978), especially in the Portland area, are known to have problems with lead exposure from paint and asbestos in building products. Constant lead exposure can lead to lead poisoning which can be extremely hazardous to small children and pregnant women as it can cause serious health problems. Lead poisoning and long term exposure can even affect child development.  If lead and asbestos is found in your home, tearing out or demolishing problem areas can release these toxins into the air which can potentially be more harmful.

What can be done to reduce the indoor air pollution in your home? If you are starting a new home remodeling project, make sure to use low emission products and that building materials and new carpet have been aired out in a well ventilated space before installing. If disturbing older buildings can not be avoided, follow recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Lead and Asbestos) or seek professional help.

For more information about indoor air quality please read from the following sources:

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/building-paint-products.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2015/05/lead_safety_tips_community_ene.html\

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