Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Floorings Affect on Indoor Air Quality

Mold growing on wood tacking under carpeting.
When Future Environment Designs performs an indoor air quality assessment we typically look at what's on the floor to see if that is hindering or contributing to the air quality problems.  Carpeting is a problem because the average person cannot clean it properly and if it gets wet you have to make sure you dry it completely to ensure mold (fungi) won't grow on it or in it.  We have seen mold grow even on the wood used for the tacking down the carpet as seen in the photo.  My preference is non-porous materials on the floor.  Researchers are now concerned about certain non-porous floors containing vinyl.  As the above linked article at Rodale.com "Caution: Floor May Be Toxic" discusses vinyl (PVC) and why it should be avoided.  The article says that researchers found that "PVC building materials, namely, vinyl flooring and coated wallpaper, were seven times more likely to contain hazardous additives when compared to nonplastic flooring options."  Vinyl flooring was also found to contain asbestos, cadmium, lead, and flame retardants.  "These substances are linked to asthma, fertility problems, learning disability, hormone-related diseases, and cancer."  It seems we will have to change our typical recommendation of vinyl floor tiles to linoleum, cork, bamboo and/or hardwood floors.  These floors are also approved for points under the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system.  The next time you are having problems with your flooring or considering remodeling look at linoleum, cork, bamboo and hardwood as better alternatives to vinyl floors or carpeting.

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