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Indoor Air Quality: Is Your Home Trying To Kill You?

Posted by Lauren Nichols on Nov 15, 2017 6:03:44 PM
Lauren Nichols

Indoor Air Quality

Is your house killing you?.jpg

Over the last several years air pollution and air quality have been ever present in the news. Most of us think of air quality in terms of the outdoors but, in reality, it is indoor air quality (IAQ) that is the real culprit. Indoor air quality is usually significantly worse than outdoor air.  the EPA determined that dangerous emissions are 2-10 x higher inside the home than outside. Poor IAQ can trigger allergic reactions like asthma, upper respiratory infections, headaches, rashes and even cancer.  One of the biggest contributors is Volatile Organic Compounds. 

Volatile organic compounds or VOCs are gases released from everyday items  as they age and degrade over time. VOCs are found in many household items such as:

  • paints, paint strippers, varnish, formaldehyde, ethanol and other solvents
  • wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers, and disinfectants
  • moth repellents, pestacides and air freshener, dry cleaned clothing
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers cosmetics
  • building materials and furnishings including most types of flooring -even wood

VOCs can be damaging to your health and while we can't eliminate these compounds from our daily lives entirely, we can minimize the amount by making educated buying decisions for low or no VOC products. Knowing what to look for on product labeling can help.

Know What To Look For

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed regulations for industrial products and mandates certain labeling practices. Reputable sellers will not only have these labels but may have additional certifications from 3rd party that measure product emissions against strict emissions guidelines. Don't be fooled by products labeled "Green" or "Eco-Friendly" if they don't have certifications to go along with that claim. 

GREENGUARD Gold Certification offers strict certification criteria, considers safety factors to account for sensitive individuals (such as children and the elderly), and ensures that a product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities.

LEED Credits or Certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building Rating System. Products certified to this standard can be used to earn valuable credits in the US Green Building Council’s LEED® Green Building Rating Systems, the Green Guide for Healthcare, the NAHB Green Building Guidelines, Green Globes, Regreen and many other building codes, standards and specifications.

Certified NSF 140, the first U.S. national carpet sustainability certification based on life cycle assessment principles. 

Green Label Plus is an independent testing program that identifies carpet, adhesives, and cushion with very low emissions of VOCs to help improve indoor air quality. It is an outgrowth of, and enhancement to the CRI Green Label Testing program.

FloorScore is a voluntary, independent certification program that tests and certifies hard surface flooring and the materials they're made with are in compliance with stringent indoor air quality emissions.

Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Green Label and Green Label Plus certified , which means their carpets will not adversely affect indoor air quality

CARB II Compliance is a part of California's Composite Wood Products Regulation (CWP Regulation), which took effect in 2009 with Phase 1. The regulation has to do with reducing formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF).Jun 10, 2016

Cradle to Cradle Certification the Cradle to Cradle Certification verifies that a product uses environmentally safe and healthy materials and is designed for material re-utilization, recycling or composting. It must also consider energy efficient manufacturing and the use of renewable energy. Finally, the manufacturing process must make efficient use of water and protect water quality

FSC and SFI Certification If sustainability of wood products is important to you when buy or remodel your home, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. It’s the best indicator, here in the U.S., that the wood used to make your cabinets, floors,counter tops, deck, and more was harvested sustainably. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification is helpful, too, though less rigorous. It’s a good bet when you can’t find FSC products. Both certifications tell you whether a wood product comes from a forest that’s managed responsibly.

Remember, especially when buying flooring, it is important to know if any underlayment, adhesives or coatings meet the same or similar levels of low or no VOC emissions as you new flooring. Most flooring manufactures will recommend their glue or adhesives if needed for your type of flooring and if they sell certified flooring, it is likely that all of the components will have the appropriate certifications. If you are ever in doubt ask the seller and make sure they provide certifications you can verify.

Examples of Flooring Manufacturers Who Meet or Beat Certifications

Shaw Floors Flooring made in the USA is committed to ensuring their products are environmentally friendly and safe. Shaw Floors partnered with Cradle to Cradle to create the world's first fully certified Cradle to Cradle flooring products.  85% of Shaw products are Cradle to Cradle Certified. Shaw also holds GreenGuard certifications for all wood and laminate as well as FloorScore, GreenLabel Plus, NSF 140 and  more for the different types of products offered.

USFloors  a leading producer of sustainable, Eco-friendly floors including Muse Strand bamboo- GreenGuard Gold Certified, FSC®-Certified hardwood, and other unique and sustainable floors. Their Castle Combe and Navarre hardwood floors are finished with a zero-VOC natural oil. Even their patented COREtec Plus® Engineered Luxury Vinyl Floors incorporate recycled wood and bamboo content into its waterproof core, an attached cork underlayment, and are eligible for LEED credits for rapidly renewable materials, recycled content, and low emitting materials.

There are other manufactures who offer certified products. This is research you may not have planned on when researching new floors and that is why OrderFloors.com does the leg work for you. Our experts have researched top manufacturers and found the cream of the crop at each tier. Let us help you find the flooring that is right for you to keep your family happy and healthly! 


Topics: Indoor air quality, Flooring Compliance Certifications