EXPEDITE YOUR SEARCH
Before you make ANY choices for a new home build or remodel, consult with the experts on non-toxic home materials at The Green Design Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They are indeed the experts and test ALL recommended materials with a FRAT device, which is accurate to 1 part per billion. There are many “indoor air quality ‘experts’ out there, but they are not doing the testing that The Green Design Center is doing.
They have an educational arm of their company, called Degree of Green, where you can find
- Degree of Green (DOG) Reports on thousands of products
- Podcasts where you can learn for free, called Non Toxic Environments
- Free DOG report/questionnaire you and each of your family members can take to elucidate your priorities in your project.
IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITY
What are YOUR priorities? We’ve heard the term “GREEN”, but do we know what “GREEN” means? Does it mean —-
- Healthy ?
- Sustainable/Renewable ?
- Green (Recycled Materials) ?
There is an IMPORTANT difference between these… There are many “GREEN” recycled products out there, but many of them are not HEALTHY, in regards to indoor air quality/chemical off-gassing.
That’s what “Degree of Green” is all about – it rates how GREEN a product is, in TERMS of what is IMPORTANT TO YOU, whether that’s health, renewable materials, or using recycled materials. Sometimes you will find a product that meets all three definitions of GREEN, but often it doesn’t, or it meets one, and a little bit of another.
GET REAL INFORMATION – NATURAL DOESN’T MEAN SAFE
We’ve all been led to believe that if something is “natural”, it is safe and healthy for the occupants of a home to use and be around. But this is FALSE.
Man-made woods, such as MDF, plywood, are made up of a lot of little pieces of a NATURAL material (wood), but the adhesives used to make these little pieces hold together, are often extremely toxic, and they off-gas chemicals into the air of your home for decades and decades, if not the entire life-span of the product.
People consider granite to be safe, because it is a natural stone, but virtually every stone or mineral (aka ore) that is mined from the Earth requires the use of HAZARDOUS chemicals during that extraction process, and if additional processing is required to separate certain minerals or materials from the rest of the rock in which it is embedded, the chemicals required to do so are ALSO HAZARDOUS. The people that do this work, and those that live literally downstream from these operations are dying of tragic diseases. Most granite comes from other countries, currently.
Also, no one has created a non-toxic SEALER for granite countertops. If one doesn’t seal and re-seal the granite every 6 months or so, the countertop develops stains from moist items which are set upon the counter. Lack of a sealer could also potentially lead to cracking.
GET REAL INFORMATION – “ZERO-VOC” PRODUCTS ARE TOXIC, 9 TIMES OUT OF 10
We’ve all been led to believe that zero-VOCs mean increased indoor air quality and human health. But this is FALSE.
The regulations requiring that paint be free of VOCs has nothing to do with human health or toxins, and has everything to do with outdoor air pollution.
Almost all zero VOC paints emit formaldehyde and a list of other chemicals that harm us. Specifically, zero-VOC paints contain formaldehyde precursors that create formaldehyde during the curing process, as well as ammonia, butyl acetate, and acetone.
The EPA began regulating VOCs in various products in the beginning in the 90s, because of the propensity for them to react with low level nitrogen and UV to create smog (outdoor air pollution).
So, now we have zero VOC products, but although the manufacturers give the illusion that this means the paint ingredients are safe for human occupants, in reality, it just means that the product doesn’t contain chemicals that contribute to OUTDOOR air pollution.
There are new products coming out all the time, and The Green Design CenterTESTS them all for toxicity, and identifies the safe products. Consult with them as this list could become outdated, very quickly.
CABINETRY & CLOSET SYSTEMS
Shelving, bookcases, including drawers, etc. – Lundia USA.
Rob Norden, CEO of Lundia USA presents his safe closet systems on the Non Toxic Environment podcast in June 2021. They use solid wood. They have a website dedicated to closet systems: http://simplecloset.com/.
Large format Porcelain Tile – 5′ x 10′ pieces, manufactured similarly to granite. Doesn’t require sealing because it is glazed. It can be difficult to find a contractor who has the tools and skillset to install this material, because it cuts like glass, but pieces together like stone.
Quartz countertops are 93% mined stone, and 7% non-toxic resin (not all resins are safe!), thus, it doesn’t require a sealer. Make sure you buy from Cambria, the only U.S.A. quartz countertop manufacturer, in Minnesota. The other brands are sourced overseas, and it is not possible to get transparent information about how these are made and what resins or other materials may be used. It’s also difficult to obtain information on child labor laws and environmental pollutant controls during mining and manufacturing. Cambria also includes the non-toxic AFM Almighty Adhesive as an installation product which maintains the warranty.
Corian – very bad indoor air quality caused during the manufacture in the plants, but once created, it is not toxic.
Richlite – it will sustain damage and get nicks and scratches, etc, but if you’re okay with that, it is a safe material according to FRAT testing at The Green Design Center.
EMFs – Electro Magnetic Fields
If you are building a home and you know where the smart meter will be located, work with a building biologist to strategically places EMF-shielding mesh inside of the home walls to block the radiation from the smart meter.
- By law, all foreign wood entering the United States must be treated with toxic chemicals. So if you’re installing a hardwood floor, try to find a source of domestic wood, or even sustainably grown wood, like Timber Growers in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
- people are often not willing to go without toxic finishes. Bona Kemi finishes, as they are not toxin-free, simply low-VOC. The AFM Polyureseal BP is the only clear hard floor finish I recommend. Some penetrating oils are good too, but the clients expectations need to be altered immensely.
- Earthen Floor (another article from Mother Earth News)
- Marmoleum – natural linoleum
- Cali Hard Vinyl Limestone
For finishing pieces of wood furniture, consider linseed oil products like Tried and True, or Hassui ceramic coating from Japan, AKA liquid glass. It is sold by https://tatara-hanbai.com, and distributed in the united States through Woodspirit Handicraft.
Andy Pace from the Green Design Center has a few excellent podcasts covering the topic of insulation. Generally, he recommends formaldehyde-free fiberglass treated with non toxic mineral oil, from brand Knauf. Knauf has a declare label that lists industrial-grade mineral oil; however, they are using a non toxic version of industrial mineral oil (there are version that are indeed very toxic). So, the insulation is essentially recycled glass, sand and mineral oil. Listen to Andy’s podcasts about insulation here:
- Quick Take on Insulation: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/quick-take-on-insulation-choices-103/id1369344930?i=1000408788930
- Oh Boy It’s Cold Outside: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/oh-boy-its-cold-outside/id1369344930?i=1000428896816
Peruse The Green Design Center website, or call them to obtain help in selecting a safe paint.
- AFM Products are safe.
- To prevent mold in basements, crawl spaces, attics, etc, use
- lime-based non toxic Caliwel BNA Home & Office AntiMicrobial Coating paint, vetted by the Green Design Center.
- Earth Paint Lime Prime, not vetted by The Green Design Center
- To prevent mold in wall cavities as the home is being constructed, apply or preferably spray the on on the wall cavity before putting the insulation in Caliwel BNA Industrial AntiMicrobial Coating paint.
- To prevent mold in rooms like bathrooms, use the Caliwel BNA Industrial AntiMicrobial Coating paint – will prevent mold for at last 5 years.
- If you have a home where the wood beams or walls have absorbed smoke, use 2 coats of shellac you make at home, followed with AFM transitional primer, followed by regular AFM Safecoat paint.
- Avoid any material that has biocides, such as anti-microbials or anti-fungals.
- Avoid paper sheet rock that doesn’t have biocides, as the paper is then a food for mold growth
- Instead, choose paper-less sheet rock.
There are other material that may also be safe. Consult with The Green Design Center.
Avoid VINYL windows like the plague. They off gas toxic chemicals into your indoor air.
Instead, choose aluminum or wood windows.