Designers are sometimes asked to consider how future occupants may be exposed to chemical ingredients used in building materials and interior products. Will the product make life easier and more convenient? Conversely, are there any concerns associated with the products and materials being used?
While designers are not expected to be experts on chemical materials, they are increasingly asked to make materials selection decisions.
When making materials selection decisions, it can help designers to understand how exposure to chemical ingredients in products may affect building occupants. One example that illustrates potential exposures is VOCs in carpets:
- Carpeting may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during installation. But these emissions can largely dissipate within 24 to 48 hours, or even faster with fresh air ventilation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises ventilating for at least 72 hours. Once installed, carpeting can actually improve indoor air quality by keeping allergens out of the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that if it is “kept very clean from the time it is installed, carpet can trap a significant amount of particles, which can be removed through regular and effective vacuuming.”