Even Green Homes Can Have Air Pollution
September 18, 2017
Indoor air pollution is present even in housing that has been built according to green standards, according to a new study by the Silent Spring Institute, which appears in the journal Environment International.
Researchers collected nearly 100 air and dust samples from newly renovated subsidized housing in Boston before and after residents moved in. The building had been renovated to eco-friendly standards, particularly for energy efficiency. Researchers say it’s the first study to look at air pollutants pre- and post-occupancy.
They found toxic chemicals present prior to the residents taking occupancy. Several flame retardants and formaldehyde were present at high levels, researchers note. Further, chemicals typically found in personal care products such as sunscreen were present in the building. Researchers say the chemicals may have been added to paints or floor finishes. After residents moved back in, the indoor air chemical make-up also changed, which suggests that “residents, through their personal belongings and behaviors, also have a strong influence on the air inside their units,” researchers note.
“Most buildings aren’t designed with people’s health in mind,” says lead author Robin Dodson, an environmental exposure scientist at Silent Spring Institute. “Yet indoor air pollution can lead to a range of health problems.”
Researchers hope the findings will inform the development of new green building standards and lead to healthier housing. Dodson also calls for green building standards to be broadened to include additional hazardous chemicals.
Source: “Air Quality in ‘Green’ Housing Affected by Toxic Chemicals in Building Materials,” ScienceDaily (Sept. 12, 2017)
Updated: August 17, 2018