Health Asthma

Published on December 16th, 2009 | by Linda Kincaid, MPH, CIH

15

Unsafe Levels of Formaldehyde in New Homes

AsthmaBeing green means saving energy.  However, being green also means staying healthy.  A study released today indicates those two goals may be at odds with each other in new homes.

Today the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a study of indoor air quality in new homes.  The report found that new homes have too little ventilation and too much formaldehyde.

Ventilation in the majority of homes did not meet code. 

The median 24hour outdoor air exchange rate was 0.26 air changes per hour; 67 percent of the homes were below the California building code requirement of 0.35 air changes per hour…

 

Inadequate ventilation causes formaldehyde to concentrate inside homes.  All homes in the study had unsafe levels of formaldehyde.

 

Nearly all homes had formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic irritation, while 59 percent exceeded guidelines for acute irritation.

 

Formaldehyde causes asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections, and headaches.  Formaldehyde is also a carcinogen, and it has been linked to leukemia.

 

Testing is the only way to know the formaldehyde concentration in a home.  Test badges cost as little at $40 each, including laboratory analysis.  An industrial hygienist can locate materials that emit formaldehyde.

Vent Line

Charleston Daily Mail April 28, 2001 * I saw in the paper the other day where CAMC had ads in there wanting nurses for up to $30 an hour. Why don’t they pay their housekeeping department, like their nurses’ aides and assistants, a little bit of money? We’re the ones who really do the dirty work. I think this is just quite ridiculous that we work for less than $8 an hour, and they work for $30 an hour. Someone needs to keep at the budget. – Attention, Charleston. You’d better wake up and start complaining to the mayor’s office. Come July 1 you will no longer have humane officers, and they are badly, badly needed in the city of Charleston. You’d better call in and start complaining. If they can get money for other jobs, they can save two jobs.

- I would hate to be an official in a small town like Montgomery where nobody liked me. Talk about lack of respect. see here how to get rid of pimples overnight

- I want to place my vent on all the cats running around St. Albans when there is a leash law. Our dogs are going crazy on chains. They’re getting all the baby rabbits and killing them. No wonder the dogs are going nuts Can’t someone control these cats?

- In Tuesday’s April 24 edition, you have a picture who is reportedly Steve Harrison, a delegate from Kanawha County to the Legislature. I think you made a mistake and put George Clooney’s picture in there instead.

- I’m calling in regard to the Greater Kanawha Valley’s Swim Team located in Kanawha and Putnam counties. Could someone please tell me why every single swim meet for every single team is located on a Wednesday night? Here is a clue. Wednesday night is a church night.

- This is a comment for the Weather Channel. Why not do us ladies a favor and show the humidity more often? It might cause us to have a better hair day.

- Vic Sprouse had better hope Dow Chemical doesn’t lay him off because after the next election that’s going to be the only job he’s going to be capable of having.

- The majority of the voting public in this state would love to have initiative, referendum and recall. The Legislature is obviously too chicken to present that and pass it because they know, particularly after this session, that most of them would be gone before their time is up. And this sorry excuse of a governor would be gone, too.

- We can thank Bill Clinton and his environmental policies for the fact that you’re now paying almost $2 a gallon for gasoline. That’s what the Democrats will do for you. Raise your taxes and raise everything else so the working man can’t get to work.

- Put out the bird feeders. The hummingbirds have come back. web site how to get rid of pimples overnight

- Now I understand why everyone hates the federal government. I should know – I work for them. They are sneaky, conniving, arrogant hypocrites, especially the administrative staff. Taxpayers would be appalled at their salaries and how little they do, with their feet up on their desks all day.

- The Agriculture Department couldn’t tell us what to do with the ladybugs. Now that pest biologist tells us to live and let live with the caterpillars. The only thing he tells us is what the pest are, not how to get rid of them. Therefore, I do not see the need to pay him a salary.

- Are there any honest people out there? My father, who is a 60- year-old retired citizen, lost his wallet in Dunbar with $300 cash in it. The wallet was returned but no cash.




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  • http://www.fischerandfrichtel.com ElizabethL

    I think home buyers need to research the builders before diving head first into a purchse.
    I’m important to know what companies are “going green” and which are claiming to.
    I found some info on tips to start going green in your existing home first at this website http://www.fischerandfrichtel.com/blog/index.php/category/green-living/ that I think will help some people out.

  • http://www.fischerandfrichtel.com ElizabethL

    I think home buyers need to research the builders before diving head first into a purchse.
    I’m important to know what companies are “going green” and which are claiming to.
    I found some info on tips to start going green in your existing home first at this website http://www.fischerandfrichtel.com/blog/index.php/category/green-living/ that I think will help some people out.

  • http://www.carterlumber.com Joe

    I think too many people make the mistake of not being selective because they dont want to be perceived as a pest. Do you agree?

  • http://www.carterlumber.com Joe

    I think too many people make the mistake of not being selective because they dont want to be perceived as a pest. Do you agree?

  • N J Messmer

    Do we really need pre-formed, pressed, pressure treated, chemical-filled materials to build our houses? Does “Green” have to be purchased? I mean, if it is true Green Living that we are after, shouldn’t we just consider what is the absolute minimum we need to live and carefully build our dwelling up from there? … Just as an exercise, for fun, whatever, let’s say we start construction with an earthen dwelling of some sort, as this architect suggests:

    “The wise man will build his house inside the Earth… Once a suitable site is located, he or will have it tested for harmful, naturally occurring gasses that sometimes come from cracks in bedrock. Even the enterprising and energetic “she”, as is done in the wilds… often has need to build her own dwelling in which to raise her cubs, and so builds for herself a den! If we men are to take what we can in the way of knowledge from nature, then, we cannot ignore the often underestimated role of the female where home construction is concerned…
    For heating and ventilation, we can look to unlikely allies – termites and ants, quite the masters of subterranean building! Indeed, it has recently been discovered that in Africa, many species build quite large and, one might say, even graceful homes; these creatures, though seemingly our enemy and opposite in every way, share our need for warm and cool air, and systems to modify the temperature inside these dwellings to suit their needs, as man does. They accomplish this by utilizing laws of physics that mankind is only now beginning to understand [sic.]. Hot air is pushed out and … (the vacuum) that this creates pulls in cool, fresh air from without…”
    – Charles Darninger, 1814 (Scottish architect, writer, and apparent supporter of the wacky-wild idea of female equality… LOL.)

    Anyway – I guess my point is, that if we want to live in Green environments, much of what we need to do to accomplish goals of living in healthy, natural spaces is already outlined for us – both by Nature and people too far ahead of their time to be appreciated. (Darninger died in the winter of 1816, penniless and ridiculed, after presenting one too many green, organic designs to clients, who thought he had gone mad – the lot of the visionary, all too often…sigh.) :)

  • N J Messmer

    Do we really need pre-formed, pressed, pressure treated, chemical-filled materials to build our houses? Does “Green” have to be purchased? I mean, if it is true Green Living that we are after, shouldn’t we just consider what is the absolute minimum we need to live and carefully build our dwelling up from there? … Just as an exercise, for fun, whatever, let’s say we start construction with an earthen dwelling of some sort, as this architect suggests:

    “The wise man will build his house inside the Earth… Once a suitable site is located, he or will have it tested for harmful, naturally occurring gasses that sometimes come from cracks in bedrock. Even the enterprising and energetic “she”, as is done in the wilds… often has need to build her own dwelling in which to raise her cubs, and so builds for herself a den! If we men are to take what we can in the way of knowledge from nature, then, we cannot ignore the often underestimated role of the female where home construction is concerned…
    For heating and ventilation, we can look to unlikely allies – termites and ants, quite the masters of subterranean building! Indeed, it has recently been discovered that in Africa, many species build quite large and, one might say, even graceful homes; these creatures, though seemingly our enemy and opposite in every way, share our need for warm and cool air, and systems to modify the temperature inside these dwellings to suit their needs, as man does. They accomplish this by utilizing laws of physics that mankind is only now beginning to understand [sic.]. Hot air is pushed out and … (the vacuum) that this creates pulls in cool, fresh air from without…”
    – Charles Darninger, 1814 (Scottish architect, writer, and apparent supporter of the wacky-wild idea of female equality… LOL.)

    Anyway – I guess my point is, that if we want to live in Green environments, much of what we need to do to accomplish goals of living in healthy, natural spaces is already outlined for us – both by Nature and people too far ahead of their time to be appreciated. (Darninger died in the winter of 1816, penniless and ridiculed, after presenting one too many green, organic designs to clients, who thought he had gone mad – the lot of the visionary, all too often…sigh.) :)

  • Pingback: California Study Finds New Homes Are Toxic : Green Resouces

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  • http://www.jm.com Bruce Ray

    We should never confuse “green” home and “healthy” home. While there can be some overlap, green homes are typically about using materials and designs that maximize energy efficiency and renewable energy. Green homes also typically feature materials that are (or, more frequently, merely claim to be) sustainable.

    In contrast, truly healthy homes feature materials and designs that minimize indoor air pollution issues, mostly through source elimination. Healthy homes are also energy efficient and more comfortable.

    Ventilation is important to healthy homes and the California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission study referred to in the article confirmed that fresh air ventilation rates in new homes are typically quite low. The abstract states:

    “The median 24-hour outdoor air exchange rate was 0.26 air changes per hour; 67 percent of the homes were below the California building code requirement of 0.35 air changes per hour; and 32 percent of the homes did not use their windows. . . The median indoor formaldehyde concentration was 36 micrograms per cubic meter (range of 4.8 to 136 micrograms per cubic meter). Nearly all homes had formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic irritation, while 59 percent exceeded guidelines for acute irritation. In conclusion, new single-family detached homes in California are built relatively airtight, can have very low outdoor air exchange rates, and can often exceed exposure guidelines for air contaminants with indoor sources, such as formaldehyde and some other volatile organic compounds. Mechanical ventilation systems are needed to provide a dependable, continuous supply of outdoor air to new homes, and reductions of various indoor formaldehyde sources are also needed.

    This makes sense if you think about it. Most new homes are built tight to be energy efficient. But tighter homes are more prone to potential indoor air pollution with the many VOC- and formaldehyde-emitting building materials, including ordinary fiber glass batt insulation (i.e., pink or yellow batts). Since most new homes do not have continuous mechanical ventilation like commercial office buildings and classrooms do, new home indoor air pollution can be a potential problem. That’s why it’s important to specify as many non-emitting building materials as possible.

    Here’s the full disclosure – I am with Johns Manville, which has the industry’s only full line of certified Formaldehyde-freeTM building insulation. Think of Johns Manville as Warren Buffett’s insulation company since we are part of Berkshire Hathaway.

    We switched to a no-added-formaldehyde formulation in 2002 because it seemed like a smart thing to do and because pollution prevention is part of our corporate culture. This has turned out to be a good move, especially given the important agency action last month on formaldehyde hazard.

    Our Formaldehyde-freeTM building insulation is also sustainable because we use a lower-energy, lower-carbon, and lower-emitting manufacturing process. In fact, our HERMTM process can meet the EPA Clean Air Act fiber glass NSPS without added abatement equipment and our dedicated HERMTM plants have such low GHG emissions that we will be exempt from both California AB-32 and proposed federal climate change regulatory schemes. Our products are made mostly from recycled glass beverage bottles and sand, a rapidly renewing and widely distributed material.

    Bruce Ray
    Johns Manville

  • http://www.jm.com Bruce Ray

    We should never confuse “green” home and “healthy” home. While there can be some overlap, green homes are typically about using materials and designs that maximize energy efficiency and renewable energy. Green homes also typically feature materials that are (or, more frequently, merely claim to be) sustainable.

    In contrast, truly healthy homes feature materials and designs that minimize indoor air pollution issues, mostly through source elimination. Healthy homes are also energy efficient and more comfortable.

    Ventilation is important to healthy homes and the California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission study referred to in the article confirmed that fresh air ventilation rates in new homes are typically quite low. The abstract states:

    “The median 24-hour outdoor air exchange rate was 0.26 air changes per hour; 67 percent of the homes were below the California building code requirement of 0.35 air changes per hour; and 32 percent of the homes did not use their windows. . . The median indoor formaldehyde concentration was 36 micrograms per cubic meter (range of 4.8 to 136 micrograms per cubic meter). Nearly all homes had formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic irritation, while 59 percent exceeded guidelines for acute irritation. In conclusion, new single-family detached homes in California are built relatively airtight, can have very low outdoor air exchange rates, and can often exceed exposure guidelines for air contaminants with indoor sources, such as formaldehyde and some other volatile organic compounds. Mechanical ventilation systems are needed to provide a dependable, continuous supply of outdoor air to new homes, and reductions of various indoor formaldehyde sources are also needed.

    This makes sense if you think about it. Most new homes are built tight to be energy efficient. But tighter homes are more prone to potential indoor air pollution with the many VOC- and formaldehyde-emitting building materials, including ordinary fiber glass batt insulation (i.e., pink or yellow batts). Since most new homes do not have continuous mechanical ventilation like commercial office buildings and classrooms do, new home indoor air pollution can be a potential problem. That’s why it’s important to specify as many non-emitting building materials as possible.

    Here’s the full disclosure – I am with Johns Manville, which has the industry’s only full line of certified Formaldehyde-freeTM building insulation. Think of Johns Manville as Warren Buffett’s insulation company since we are part of Berkshire Hathaway.

    We switched to a no-added-formaldehyde formulation in 2002 because it seemed like a smart thing to do and because pollution prevention is part of our corporate culture. This has turned out to be a good move, especially given the important agency action last month on formaldehyde hazard.

    Our Formaldehyde-freeTM building insulation is also sustainable because we use a lower-energy, lower-carbon, and lower-emitting manufacturing process. In fact, our HERMTM process can meet the EPA Clean Air Act fiber glass NSPS without added abatement equipment and our dedicated HERMTM plants have such low GHG emissions that we will be exempt from both California AB-32 and proposed federal climate change regulatory schemes. Our products are made mostly from recycled glass beverage bottles and sand, a rapidly renewing and widely distributed material.

    Bruce Ray
    Johns Manville

  • http://happyrain.org/ Emily

    [...] and yet there is no legal requirement for heat recovery ventilators. Now Linda Kincaid at Green Building Elements points us to a new study (Read the full story on TreeHugger Fuente: [...]

  • http://happyrain.org/ Emily

    [...] and yet there is no legal requirement for heat recovery ventilators. Now Linda Kincaid at Green Building Elements points us to a new study (Read the full story on TreeHugger Fuente: [...]

  • http://www.chouchoulearntowalk.co.uk Chou Chou Doll

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  • http://www.coferadams.com Atlanta Lumber Company

    Are people willing to justify the price of ‘green building’ for a possibility of there being a cost to their health though?

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