Dr. Helena Riess, of Wellness Management Consultants, says that while LEED, the leading standard for construction, may be a good starting point for energy efficient buildings, it does not mean the building is a healthy or a biologically safe living environment.
Dr. Riess, and others have long pointed out that LEED certification has a number of levels, all of which indicate how green a building might be. “But,” she said today, “That has nothing to do with health, and in some cases a green building can be more unhealthy than an older non-certified structure.”
Older buildings which may not have the insulation and containment of a green building, may use more energy, but in many cases the air flow, keeps the indoor air fresher and healthier than some green buildings.
This can be particularly important if the office building is furnished with materials that outgas VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) which are trapped in the sealed building and can build up in the human body.
Dr. Riess noted that while the issue is important for the workplace, the cumulative impact of VOC’s on young children can be even more severe.
VOC’s are present in hundreds of products that consumers bring into their home every day. “We don’t give a second thought to what kind of carpet we use when we redecorate for the new baby, or what kind of adhesives were used for the new dresser set in a child’s bedroom, but they can all be sources of VOC’s which can impede or retard the development of young children.
“Consumers need to look for eco-friendly products with minimal or non-VOC ingredients that do not outgas or negatively affect our health and well-being- rather than looking for brands that contain VOC’s and toxins. If we don’t, In the end, the costs can be even greater for overall health.”
Firms can do a chemical analysis of your home indoor air quality, but in many cases, it’s just matter of having a specialist take a look at the products in your home. You can then eliminate them immediately, or at least over time, Dr. Riess said.
Not surprisingly, at least not to anyone who has studied Building Biology, the study found that poor air quality leads to a decrease in cognitive functioning.
Helena Riess, Ph. D. of Wellness Management Consultants , notes that while more study is needed, this may be among the first studies to show that society is slowly changing it’s attitude toward overall air quality both in the office and at home.
“Building Biologists, have long pointed out that VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) can impact personal health and need to be minimized,” Dr. Riess noted.
She went on, ‘ We advise all our clients to survey their homes and eliminate as many sources of VOC’s as possible.”
VOC’s outgas from hundreds of products such as sealants, glues, adhesives, and preservatives as well as plastics and man-made products like carpets and even wallpaper.
From a home standpoint, according to Dr. Helena Riess, the real issue is that the VOC’s measured from any one product may not exceed accepted standards, but they build up over time and have a cumulative effect.