New Construction Materials

Toxic or Healthy?
Depending on where you come from, new construction materials may either be toxic or healthy - or perhaps some of each.

Because the health of your family is so important, insist on knowing what is in the materials used in your new home construction.

In the U.S. at least, standard building materials are quite
substandard in terms of their effect on your health.

The building industry changes and grows and constantly looks for ways to build more cheaply and without some of the common drawbacks. For instance, OSB, an engineered wood product, has become very popular for several reasons. Among them is that it is more predictable (and much less expensive) than solid wood.

But how many people (including builders) are aware that the wood chips glued together to make this board are using a formaldehyde based adhesive? The adhesive outgasses formaldehyde for years.

is a known human carcinogen. Is there a known safe exposure level? How many of us would knowingly volunteer to be guinea pigs to find out?

Toxic Houses

When the children and I were dealing with allergic reactions and my oldest son was diagnosed with asthma , we made plans to move and get away from the highway fumes and the mold problems in our home. We built a healthy house and we did in time recover from most of the health problems we experienced prior to that time.

After so many years had passed, and a couple of moves later, I assumed that new construction materials would be safer now.

Wrong assumption.

When looking to build again, I talked to some builders and begin to visit some "open houses" or free tours through new construction. It was a good opportunity to see the workmanship of the builder. Here is part of my story:

I looked at many, many open houses- considering the designs, layouts, workmanship, etc.

Most houses that one might walk through would be a short tour. But on two occasions, I stayed for a longer period of time. And that is when I realized I could NEVER live in a standard-built home.

The first of these two occasions was when I visited a new owner - whose builder I was considering for the upcoming project.

She was very hospitable, and besides the tour, she invited me to stay and visit (for an hour or so). We sat in the kitchen to talk. She told me of her health issues, as well as health problems with her young daughter.

During this time, I could smell the paint very strongly. Please note that they had already been living in the house for several months.

They also had all new kitchen cabinets as well, so the cabinets, walls, and vinyl flooring were all outgassing. In addition, there was carpeting on the main floor.

I developed a headache relatively quickly, and before I left, I also felt nauseous. In all seriousness, I felt quite sick for the next 3 days.

The new construction materials had an immediate negative effect on my health.

Several weeks later, I had the opportunity to look at another newly built home, and I was there alone so I could take my time. I examined the details of the cabinets, appliances, and so forth.

Within 5 minutes of entering the kitchen, my nose was burning, and soon after, my throat. I got an instant headache, and my eyes began itching. I could smell the formaldehyde outgassing.

In the basement, there was loose insulation stuffed into the ceiling cavity. My eyes, nose and throat were burning downstairs as well.

I stayed long enough to check out the quality of the building - which ended up being too long. I once again felt quite unwell for several days. Not fun. It wasn't hard to put two and two together:
Standard New Construction Materials = Illness.

My allergic reactions - or chemical sensitivities - were about to determine a swing back towards the intensive research and planning of more than a decade before - and rediscovering all over again the benefits of building green.

If these toxins can cause immediate reactions, what do you suppose the long-term effects of exposure might be?

Don't gamble with your family's health. Build green!

Related Pages

Allergic Reaction


Healthy Home

Building Your Green Home Page

The time is NOW. The future is HERE. The color is GREEN.


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