Published on March 21, 2014
Microshield IAQ 1 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building A Healthy Home John P. Lapotaire, CIEC John@FloridaIAQ.com Lydia A. Lapotaire, CIEC Lydia@FloridaIAQ.com Understanding & Reducing VOC’s in New Homes
Microshield IAQ 2 www.FloridaIAQ.com 2 1 Introduction 2 Building a Healthy Home 4 3 Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs Where do VOCs come from? 5 What levels of VOCs are safe? 5 What can I do about VOCs? VOC Pictures 3 Questions & Discussion
Microshield IAQ 3 www.FloridaIAQ.com “Healthier Air Starts Here”
Microshield IAQ 4 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • Today's Home Builders Build Green • Today's Home Builders Sell Green • A Healthy Home is Tomorrow’s Green Home! • So…… Now It’s Time to Build and Sell Healthy Homes!
Microshield IAQ 5 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • There is nothing stopping Home Builders from building a Healthy Home • Building a Healthy Home starts with carful selection of the products used to build the home. • Low VOC products are a must when building a Healthy Home.
Microshield IAQ 6 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies when building a Healthy Home. • So remember to look for Low VOC or VOC Free choices when purchasing building products. • Currently there are no standard labeling system for VOCs, but many manufacturers offer a Low or No VOC option.
Microshield IAQ 7 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • Formaldehyde, one of the best known VOCs, is surprisingly common in new home construction. • Luckily, it happens to be one of the few indoor air pollutants that can be readily measured. • Air monitoring is one approach that can help prevent adverse effects of exposure to volatile organic compounds.
Microshield IAQ 8 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • Many products merely claim to be “Low VOC.” • Everyone specifying and purchasing products must actually find the products’ VOC content in grams per liter (g/L), which is usually found on the product’s technical data sheet or material safety data sheet.
Microshield IAQ 9 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • Compare the listed VOC number with VOC limits listed for different uses determined by – South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) – Rule #1113 and Green Seal GS-11 and GS- 03. • SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the smoggiest region of the U.S.
Microshield IAQ 10 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • When you shop around, you’ll see labels indicating “Low-VOC” and “zero-VOC” paints, meaning they contain a reduced number of grams of VOC per liter – (under 150 grams for low-VOC and – under 5 for zero-VOC). • The majority of common paint brands now provide these kinds of alternatives
Microshield IAQ 11 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • Water-based wood finishes, such as waterborne urethane or acrylic, also have decreased toxic compounds, but still provide comparable durability to their standard counterparts. • You can also find paint with recycled content which keeps remainders out of the waste stream, cuts down on new production, and generally costs less.
Microshield IAQ 12 www.FloridaIAQ.com Building a Healthy Home • Many conventional interior grade composite materials, like carbon fiber and engineered wood, contain urea-formaldehyde binder, which has been classified as a Toxic Air Contaminant by the California Air Resources Board due to its potential to cause cancer. • It’s now fairly common to hear about formaldehyde-free fiberboards, and those are the ones you want to look for.
Microshield IAQ 13 www.FloridaIAQ.com Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. • While most people can smell high levels of some VOCs, other VOCs have no odor. • Odor does not indicate the level of risk from inhalation of this group of chemicals.
Microshield IAQ 14 www.FloridaIAQ.com Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs • Acetone • Benzene • Ethylene glycol • Formaldehyde • Methylene chloride • Perchloroethylene • Toluene • Xylene • 1,3-butadiene There are thousands of different VOCs produced and used in our daily lives. Some common examples include:
Microshield IAQ 15 www.FloridaIAQ.com Where do VOCs come from? • Building Materials – Carpets and adhesives – Composite wood products – Paints – Sealing caulks – Solvents – Upholstery fabrics – Varnishes – Vinyl Floors – Structural components Many products we have in our homes release or “off-gas” VOCs. Some examples of sources of VOCs are:
Microshield IAQ 16 www.FloridaIAQ.com Where do VOCs come from? • Far too often the reason a product produces excessive amounts of VOC’s is Miss- Application of the product. • All Building Products MUST be installed and applied according to the manufacturers specifications. • Failure to follow the spec’s can lead to increased levels of product emitted VOC’s
Microshield IAQ 17 www.FloridaIAQ.com Where do VOCs come from? • Home and Personal Care Products – Air fresheners – Air cleaners that produce ozone – Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals – Cosmetics – Fuel oil, gasoline – Moth balls – Vehicle exhaust running a car in an attached garage
Microshield IAQ 18 www.FloridaIAQ.com Where do VOCs come from? • Behaviors – Cooking – Dry-cleaning – Hobbies – Newspapers – Non-electric space heaters – Photocopiers – Smoking – Stored paints and chemicals – Wood burning stoves
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Microshield IAQ 20 www.FloridaIAQ.com Where do VOCs come from? • Studies have shown that the level of VOCs indoors is generally two to five times higher than the level of VOC’s outdoors. • VOC concentrations in indoor air depend on many factors, including the: – Amount of VOCs in a product; – Rate at which the VOCs are released; – Volume of the air in the room/building; – Ventilation rate or the area; and – Outdoor concentrations of VOCs.
Microshield IAQ 21 www.FloridaIAQ.com What levels of VOCs is safe? • No standards have been set for VOCs in non industrial settings. • OSHA regulates formaldehyde, a specific VOC, as a carcinogen. • OSHA has adopted a Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) of .75 ppm, and an action level of 0.5 ppm. • HUD has established a level of .4 ppm for mobile homes. It is advisable to mitigate formaldehyde that is present at levels higher than 0.1 ppm.
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Microshield IAQ 25 www.FloridaIAQ.com What levels of VOCs are safe? • The best health protection measure is to limit your exposure to products and materials that contain VOCs when possible. • If you think you may be having health problems caused by VOCs, try reducing levels in your home. • If symptoms persist, consult with your doctor to rule out other serious health conditions that may have similar symptoms.
Microshield IAQ 26 www.FloridaIAQ.com What levels of VOCs are safe? • There are established Health Risk Values (HRVs) for some individual VOCs. • HRVs are “concentrations of chemicals or defined mixtures of chemicals emitted to air that are unlikely to pose a significant risk of harmful effects when humans are exposed to those concentrations over a specified time.”
Microshield IAQ 27 www.FloridaIAQ.com Are some people at greater risk from VOC exposure than others? • Persons with respiratory problems such as asthma, young children, elderly, and • persons with heightened sensitivity to chemicals may be more susceptible to irritation and illness from VOCs.
Microshield IAQ 28 www.FloridaIAQ.com Low-VOC Products • Cleaner indoor air quality as well as reduced chemical emissions can be realized by simply using Low or No VOC building materials. • Elevated levels of VOC’s in new homes have been linked to – eye and respiratory irritation, – headaches, – fatigue and – other symptoms associated with “sick building” syndrome.
Microshield IAQ 29 www.FloridaIAQ.com Low-VOC Products • Many commonly used building products, such as – Paints – Varnishes – Adhesives – Carpets – Cabinets – Structural Components Some of these products can emit a variety of harmful chemicals into the air for months after they have been applied.
Microshield IAQ 30 www.FloridaIAQ.com Low-VOC Products • Paints • Paint thinner • Solvents • Wood preservatives • Finishes • Aerosol sprays • Cleaners and disinfectants • Air fresheners • Stored fuels • Dry-cleaned clothing • Carpets • Caulks and sealants • Adhesives • Office furniture Products that emit VOCs include, but are not limited to, the following:
Microshield IAQ 31 www.FloridaIAQ.com What can I do about VOCs that are in the homes I build? • Although home screening kits (devices) are available to measure total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) levels they are of limited use and won’t correct a VOC problem. • Instead of testing, the first step is to conduct an inspection of your home for the common sources of VOCs.
Microshield IAQ 32 www.FloridaIAQ.com What can I do about VOCs homes I build? • Sources that may be problematic include almost everything you use to build your homes which tend to off-gas more VOC’s when they are new. • The primary sources include carpet, paint, plastics structural components or manufactured wood products. • And don’t forget the cleaning products used when your home is complete.
Microshield IAQ 33 www.FloridaIAQ.com What can I do about VOCs that are in the homes I build? • Once you determine the probable source(s) of VOCs, steps can be taken to reduce the levels. • If you are unable to determine probable sources, a professional indoor air quality investigator can be consulted.
Microshield IAQ 34 www.FloridaIAQ.com What can I do about VOCs that are in the homes I build? • Source control: Remove or reduce the number of products in the homes you build that give off VOCs. • Only purchase Low or No VOC Products and carefully follow the manufacturers spec’s on product labels.
Microshield IAQ 35 www.FloridaIAQ.com • Remove unused building products from the home immediately after use. • stored chemicals in closed containers can sometimes “leak” and release VOCs into indoor air. What can I do about VOCs that are in the homes I build?
Microshield IAQ 36 www.FloridaIAQ.com What can I do about VOCs that are in the homes I build? • Ventilation and climate control can be used to reduce exposure to VOCs. • Keep both the temperature and relative humidity as low as possible or comfortable. Chemicals will off-gas more under warmer conditions with high humidity
Microshield IAQ 37 www.FloridaIAQ.com What can I do about VOCs that are in the homes I build? • In summary, the most effective way to limit VOCs indoors is to limit the potential sources of VOCs. • Increasing the amount of outdoor “fresh air” into a space can also dilute and reduce VOC levels.
Microshield IAQ 38 www.FloridaIAQ.com Why Should You Use Low VOC Building Materials? • Reduced chemical emissions from VOCs. • Improved indoor air quality. • Improved occupant health. • Reduced nuisance odor complaints – eye and respiratory irritation, headaches, fatigue and other symptoms of “sick building” syndrome. • Value-added appeal to Health Conscious Home Buyers!
Microshield IAQ 39 www.FloridaIAQ.com VOC’S PRODUCED FROM BUILDING PRODUCTS Photos of Building Products Emitting VOC’s What is the Catalyst Causing the Building Products to Emit the VOC’s
Microshield IAQ 40 www.FloridaIAQ.com A C D B
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Microshield IAQ 86 www.FloridaIAQ.com VOC HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS Photos of Personal Belongings Emitting VOC’s
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Microshield IAQ 91 www.FloridaIAQ.com Sometimes it’s the litter box
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Microshield IAQ 100 www.FloridaIAQ.com “Healthier Air Starts Here”
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