Friday, April 11, 2008

Eco Homes

I am a firm believer in a healthy home. I have an old home that I upgraded with energy star appliances, only natural building materials, reused house parts, and low VOC paint & stain. I don't use vinyl, only ceramic or stone tile. The house was originally built with hard wood floors. The floors are little stained here & there but I don't mind and neither do my tenants.

It is a 4 unit victorian. Each tenant gets an eco friendly care package when they sign a lease. It includes CF bulbs, a recycling bin and cleaning supplies. I try to make it easy on them.

While I worked at an environmental testing laboratory I processed testing samples from all over the world. It often amazed me what people dump on the ground and in water. I often worked with different chemicals to process the samples. Chemicals included freon, chlorine, acetone, benzene...etc. There are special rules for handling these types of chemicals. There are also fume hoods (like a big vent that sucks out air) to remove chemicals that are emitted into the air in the room.

But there are not fume hoods in houses. So, people breath in all sorts of chemicals such as formaldehyde, chlorine, solvents...etc. I wonder if they understand what is happening to the air in their home and their lungs? Or do they have the attitude "It won't happen to me."

What is "funny" is that many people, the average consumer, doesn't really know what they are getting themselves into. They often trust the companies to provide them with safe product. Or these people think there are strict laws and inspections of products that protect the American consumer. People don't realize that the laws in the U.S. are made only after several people have been harmed over a number of years. And usually because someone complained. We don't have a preventative maintenance types of culture.

I always recommend two classes to all college students, environmental chemistry (not really a chemistry class) to understand the world around them and how one thing effect another and clinical microbiology in order to understand cause and effect. A person would think they know all about cause and effect. But when dealing with a chemical or microbes that they can not see, they probably are not thinking about it, often until it is too late.

Here is a cool article about a person who moved into an eco friendly apartment not for health but for a convenient location on