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Are Green Buildings Always Healthy?

May 7, 2010
Indoor air pollution still a problem in some sustainable built environments

Believe it or not, not all green buildings are as healthy and sustainable as they appear. In fact, many of them could be inadvertently harming the health of their occupants through the products and materials used in their construction and design.

“Now more than ever, indoor air pollution from product emissions is a huge concern,” says Dr. Marilyn Black, world-renowned scientist, indoor air quality expert, and founder of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI). “As the demand for more energy-efficient, tightly sealed buildings grows, so does the risk for trapping indoor air pollutants inside. We end up inhaling countless chemicals that off-gas from interior products and materials – chemicals that are known to make us sick.”

Along with indoor air affecting human health (exposure to polluted indoor air is known to cause nosebleeds, headaches, nausea, asthma, and even cancer), financial and legal backlash often accompanies “sick buildings.” Simple, proactive measures can minimize indoor air pollution in commercial, healthcare, and educational environments.

“It’s important to remember that, while green products, materials, and practices can be good for the outdoor environment, they may not always be the best for our indoor environments,” Black says. “Our indoor environments are where we spend 90-percent of our time. We have to make sure the products we surround ourselves with are low-emitting.”

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