The Scoop on Indoor Air Quality
Do you know how many breaths you take in one day? The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that most Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. By paying closer attention to the products you bring into the home, you can improve your indoor air quality and the health of your family.
1. Wool Rugs vs. Synthetic Rugs. The initial cost for wool rugs is greater than synthetics, but is a long-term investment in your health. Wool is naturally fire retardant unlike its artificial counterparts, which are prone to igniting more easily. Wool absorbs moisture and captures dust or pollen, thus reducing humidity and allergens in the air. The fibers in wool are also extremely resilient and can retain their form over longer periods of time.
Synthetic rugs are often made from nylon, acetate, or polyester. These man-made fibers are highly flammable and are often treated with synthetic chemicals to reduce flammability. The trade-off for reducing flammability is the increased potency of toxins off-gassing into your home. If you’re sensitive to chemicals or odors, off-gassing from newly installed synthetic rugs and carpets may cause headaches, dizziness, or nausea.
2. Solid Wood Casegoods. Opt for furniture made from solid wood such as walnut, teak, oak or maple. Wood furniture is typically held together by basic wood joinery techniques, ensuring a stronger bond and requiring less adhesives, which are the main culprits in harmful VOC emissions.
Avoid furniture composed of MDF or particle board, which is made from compressed wood shavings, chips or sawdust held together by synthetic resins, binders and glues. These materials are not as long lasting or strong as wood, and the resins used will off-gas harmful toxins into your home.
3. Organic Upholstery. Standard upholstered goods are made from polyurethane foam (poly-foam) wrapped in dacron. Both materials are man-made and petroleum-based. They contain isocyanates and polyols that are highly flammable and are treated with flame-retardant chemicals to reduce combustibility. The chemicals in these flame retardants have been linked to a wide range of health problems. (See this article in the New York Times for more info).
At Niche Interiors, we prefer custom upholstered goods made with natural latex foam wrapped in organic, untreated wool. Natural latex foam is made from collected sap or serum from rubber trees — it’s an organic byproduct that does not off-gas harmful toxins.
*Contact us today to learn more about our Green Interior Design Services!*