Study: 'Green' Products Can Still Create IAQ Problems

In a recently completed study funded by GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI), there was preliminary evidence that "green" low-emitting products may still cause increased chemicals in indoor environments.

The study, conducted by Chi Phuong Hoang, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin's Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering program, revealed that even "green" wall, flooring, ceiling and cabinetry materials can cause "secondary" emission of chemicals when exposed to naturally occurring ozone in the indoor air.

Many green materials are bio-based and, as a consequence, may react even with low levels of ozone that naturally occur in the air, the researcher stated. After examining 10 such bio-based materials, Chi found that while the materials did not themselves emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the indoor air, they reacted with ozone to create "secondary" emissions of VOCs. The three products that were found to emit the most secondary emissions were green ceiling tiles, natural cork wallpaper and wheat board.

Secondary emissions of VOCs may still harm human health. Other examples of secondary emissions is when porous materials, such as upholstery, carpeting and ceiling tiles, absorb primary emissions from high emitting building products and materials, and re-emit them into the indoor air. This is often referred to as the "VOC sink effect." To help avoid this problem, its good practice to apply wet products (paints, adhesives, coatings) before installing porous materials.

"The research confirms the importance of analyzing the impact that building products and materials may have on indoor air," said Carl Smith, GEI's CEO. "The interactions of the chemicals produced by products requires additional research into their reactions and impacts on human health and the environment."

Indirectly, the study reveals limitations of current measures of "green" products. Indoor air is a complex mix of chemicals, allergens and particles that react in ways that could potentially harm human health. While measuring the primary chemical emissions from products begins to address some of these issues, it still does not adequately predict all of the chemicals that might be present in indoor environments.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue