The housing market is hot, hot, hot. Interest rates are incredibly low and many of us are taking advantage of those low rates, building our dream homes or purchasing fixer-uppers. But before you start swinging hammers, you should know that building and construction materials can be a significant source of harmful chemicals that are released into the air in a process called off-gassing (or outgassing). These chemicals, like any toxic pollutants, can cause illness or aggravate existing illnesses. And what’s worse, damage from exposure to airborne chemicals may not be noticeable right away, making it difficult to recognize.
So where exactly are these harmful chemicals coming from? Well, unfortunately they’re present in everything from wall paint to flooring, carpets and blinds to furniture and even in household cleaners used to get the space ready for you to move in. You know that “new house smell”? That’s the smell of VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, which can be emitted from building materials into the air. VOCs can cause breathing problems, headaches and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat in short-term exposure. Common examples of VOCs are formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides and benzene, which are associated with increased respiratory and cancer rates even at low concentrations over an extended duration (although the Government of Canada says there’s essentially no risk of developing cancer from levels typically found in homes).
The good news is that once you’re aware of what’s impacting your IAQ there are some things you can do to improve it. If you’re building new, consider a design that doesn’t have an attached garage. We know, they are so convenient, but unfortunately they are also a significant source of harmful contaminants from exhaust fumes of motorized vehicles and equipment.
You can also choose building materials that are low-VOC-emitting. Look for low VOC paint, stains, adhesives, caulking, grout, mortar and sealants. During construction or renovations, make sure there is adequate ventilation and fresh air coming in. If you can, avoid living in the space until the “new house smell” has faded: that means fewer VOCs are being released into the air.
Finally, we recommend adding a Ti-DOX HydroxylizAire to your construction plans. The HydroxylizAire attaches to your furnace or HVAC system, working around the clock to sanitize your indoor air as it flows throughout your house. Unlike other air purifiers, the HydroxylizAire uses a holistic combination of UVC light and hydroxyl radicals to destroy detrimental airborne contaminants (including viruses and bacteria) in a way that is safe for you and your family.