Materials to avoid using in a home remodel
As builders and homeowners alike become more environmentally conscious, avoiding toxic building materials becomes a priority. In addition to lowering a home’s environmental impact, choosing green materials can also help reduce indoor air pollution.
“Chemicals get airborne and worsen respiratory symptoms,” says Dr. Alex Martinez of Lake Austin Asthma and Allergy Associates in Austin, Texas.
Toxic products can be found throughout our homes, particularly older or historic homes that were not build with modern materials. Unhealthy chemicals can be found in everything from paint, sealant, insulation, piping, flooring, and more. If you are preparing to update, renovate, or remodel your home, avoiding these building materials can help you create a greener, environmentally friendly space.
- Old materials
Recycling old wood or other building materials might seem like an environmentally friendly choice. While it may be tempting to repurpose old wood or reuse old materials, make sure you know what they are made of before putting them in your home. Older materials may have lead paint, asbestos, or other building materials that are now known to be toxic.
- PVC plastics
PVCs are a group of chemicals that help make plastic more durable and flexible; PVCs can be found in everything from plumbing pipes and wiring to ceiling tiles and vinyl flooring. A report by the Healthy Building Network, however, found that PVCs may weaken the immune system. Reduce the use of PVCs in your home by choosing PEX or polypropylene piping or natural floors such as bamboo or cork.
- Fiberglass insulation
While still commonly used in construction, fiberglass insulation may include formaldehyde or inhalable glass fibers; this can negatively affect the air quality in your home. Instead, opt for formaldehyde-free insulation, which is often comparable in price; soy-based foams, wool, hemp, or even recycled denim are four additional non-toxic alternatives to fiberglass insulation.
- Paint with VOCs
Instead of just shopping for a specific color, make sure you’re looking for paint that is VOC-free. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are what create the “fresh paint” smell. The smell, however, is the result of VOCs being released into your home’s air supply. While VOCs dissipate as the paint ages, they can cause headaches, dizziness, or irritate those with respiratory issues. Choosing paint that is low or free from VOCs is an easy way to make your home greener.
The products we choose for our homes can have an impact on our health; opting for green, non-toxic, or sustainable products may seem small, but can have a big impact when remodeling your home. Shopping for green or environmentally products can help make your home – and our planet – a healthier place.