Volatile Organic Compounds in Design Materials

Recycled Cotton Bathroom Curtain
Recycled Cotton Bathroom Curtain

How much do you care about your family’s health? When you choose materials for building or refurbishing a house, you need to know that many popular products contain so called VOC or volatile organic compounds. These are substances that evaporate from the surfaces of certain objects in your household and in many cases a human nose cannot detect their presence.

Possibly the worst offender in this context is carpets. Before deciding to use carpet, consider that the adhesives will contain a high amount of VOC, so might some of the carpet lining (the plastic mesh underneath the fabric).

Vinyl. What about you shower curtain? Is it made of vinyl, if so, you’ll have XX floating around for at least next 10 years. A good alternative is an eco bath curtain made of specially treated cotton or hemp.

Another great offender is furniture made of chipboard (aka particleboard). The adhesive that makes the chips stick together releases significant amount of formaldehyde and other organic substances. It can cause allergy, asthma, other pulmonary diseases and even some forms of cancer.

Some chipboard products produced following modern standards are considered safe… or should we say relatively safe? Besides chipboard is a nightmare to recycle. You cannot burn it and it would take huge amounts of heat and other carbon-intensive methods to separate organic substances from wood dust. We should encourage a wider use of recyclable materials.

A good green alternative is using wooden or metal furniture. Buying second hand furniture off eBay and charity shops is both fun and a formula to a better life.

Hazardous paint materials. When painting the walls or ceilings, make sure you use eco-paint. You can get the same result with much lower health risk and at just 10 – 15pc higher price.

Green home design is not only about saving the planet, it is more about providing your family with a healthier option.

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