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Choose to breathe easy

Posted on | By Shirley Kay
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Michigan, USA - Much as we may like to dream about more leisure time in the open air, statistics show we are spending more and more time inside. In reality we are mostly indoors at our homes or workplaces.

The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States reports people spend up to ninety percent of their time inside homes or offices. The statistics for the UK are very similar with the average person in Britain spending less than two hours outside on a week day. Ninety two percent of the time most people in the UK are indoors.

The EPA in the U.S.A. also reports a concerning body of scientific evidence that the air inside homes and other buildings is more polluting than the air outside.

Khristi Zimmeth of Detroit News highlights the beneficial health effect of choosing better materials for building, renovating and decorating a home or office.

Interior designer, Robin Wilson advises on the benefits of a reduction of toxins and chemicals. One of the New York Post's fifty most powerful women, Robin has long been an advocate of greener choices. Having endured frequent hospitalizations for asthma and allergies, Wilson has a deep understanding of the challenges facing people with respiratory diseases. She is a well respected author and blogger for the Huffington Post and considered to be an eco hero for sustainable design.

Older buildings may contain lead and asbestos but new buildings also contain hazards such as formaldehyde found in construction materials, carpets, padding, cabinetry and furniture. Ventilation is key and the energy efficient designs of newer buildings can reduce levels of outdoor air. Instead Robin recommends designing with more natural materials and without toxic chemicals.

Avoid particle board and opt for solid wood. Choose organic fabrics and wool instead of polyurethane foam. Opt too for kitchen countertops free of radon. Black granite worktops have been shown to emit radon. Research scientists at Rice University in Houston have conducted studies on the effect of granite countertops on the safe levels of radon in the home. Levels vary so Professor Llope advises the testing of granite countertops. Avoid VOC's from paint and sprays. The National Institute for Health, a world renowned medical research center, recommends limiting exposure to chemicals such as phthalates, found in some plastics and PFC's used for stain resistance and flame retardancy. These chemicals have become known to be 'hormone disrupters'.

Harsh chemicals can also be found in home cleaning products. Research published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, from a recent study showed the regular use of cleaning sprays has an impact on lung health comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.

Make the decision to educate yourself and you will soon realise the importance for not just your own health but for the future of the environment and for our children. Designer, Ann Arbor believes that education is important so that people can make more informed choices. It is all about being greener and cleaner.

Education can mean rediscovery of old secrets for cleaning and fragrance in the home. The choice of natural products like lemon juice or fresh lavender. Choosing VOC free eco paint and natural products such as beeswax. The best way to avoid formaldehyde, for example is to to buy something old. It takes time to off-gas so look for old things that have already stood the test of time. Alternatively buy solid wood instead of particle board. Antique and reclaimed makes a better choice than new. Architectural salvage dealers can offer toxic free salvaged options. Salvo especially recommends Salvo Code members , so look out for the crane logo.

The main image shows reclaimed wood at LASSCO Ropewalk, London. Other images show reclaimed and antique items currently for sale via the SalvoWEB online marketplace; all from architectural salvage and reclamation dealers who are Salvo Code members.

Robin's knowledge is shared in her book, Clean Design: Wellness For Your Lifestyle. Published by Greenleaf Book Group. See more details on the link below.

Another useful read is the 'Toxic Chemicals in Building Materials' from the Healthy Building Network. Find at healthybuilding.net They raises concerns over the absence of testing for safety in the emerging use of nano technology.

See the full Detroit News article on the link below.

And choose instead to breathe easy.

The Detroit News: Breathe easy with better materials at home
Greenleaf Book Group: Clean Design: Wellness For Your Lifestyle by Robin Wilson

Story Type: Feature