GreenGuard Certification – Guide for Interior Products
Fall is finally on its way, which means gradually, more time will be spent indoors. People
already spend, on average, almost 90% of their time inside. Most would assume the
outdoors is where you are at risk to toxic airborne pollutants, but many materials that are
found in the home can be just as harmful. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic
particles are released into the air, with the potential to provide many negative effects
on human health. Poor ventilation, unusual varied temperatures and humidity are all
components that affect the concentration levels of pollution. It can lead up to amounts
100 times higher than those outside. Because it is so subtle, indoor air pollution is now
viewed by many health organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (USEPA) as one of the greatest risks to human health.
What exactly are the dangers of indoor air pollution?
Adverse health effects from indoor air pollution can be experienced shortly after
exposure or it could develop years later. Immediate and short term effects can include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. More severe symptoms of diseases such as asthma, dermatitis, and allergic rhinitis can also be triggered soon after. Serious and chronic health effects may appear years after exposure or from prolonged or repeated periods of exposure.
The effects of indoor air contamination include heart disease, some respiratory diseases,
reproductive and developmental problems, and cancer- all of which can be severely
damaging or even fatal. Most modern materials are processed, exposing them to
chemicals that are known to contribute to air contamination. They are then absorbed and
carried into the finished products. Unknowingly, consumers bring the products home,
possibly being exposed to conditions where they’ll emit chemicals into the air.
You may be surprised to learn that the toxic emissions from many of these sources are
not controlled or are only partially controlled by federal, state or local law. The USEPA
encourages voluntary standards for indoor pollution, like those set by a third party
organization such as the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) to help establish
federal, state or local regulations.
What can you do to avoid indoor air pollution dangers?
The GREENGUARD Certification programs refulate low-emitting interior products and building materials. Founded in 2001, the GEI is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the health of people and improving quality of life, especially when it comes to indoor air, by reducing the amount of exposure to toxic chemicals. The organization works to provide a third-party certification program to help consumers avoid products that contribute to indoor contamination. When a company’s products are certified, this signals that the product meets specific emission standards in the home or in surroundings where humans are.
One common household product that is often submitted for GEI’S manufacture certification is window treatments. Drapes, shades and blinds are made of processed fabric, and often exposed to direct heat and humidity. Manufacturers who wish to receive this certification must design a window covering that is safer for the home, using fewer chemicals in the production process. They then submit for review with the GEI.
What is the review process like?
Materials will be tested and reviewed for more than 10,000 individual volatile organic compounds and required to meet stringent health-based emission levels for over 350 of these individual VOCs. Products are also tested for emissions of formaldehyde, aldehydes, respirable particles, ozone and other pollutants that are know to cause serious health problems. Testing takes place in dynamic environmental chambers designed to simulate product use in typical indoor environments. Many certified products will be required to pass annual re-certification testing and quarterly monitoring tests to safeguard against potential changes in the products or manufacturing that could affect indoor air pollution factors.
Look specifically for products that meet Greenguard’s Children and Schools Certification standards. The program offers stricter criteria for products used at home and can assure consumers that it should be safe to use where they live. It is up to the consumer to be aware of indoor air pollution & toxic chemicals and to look for and even demand products with this level of certified approval from a reputable third party organization.
There are only a few manufacturers who have actually produced products which have been able to receive this seal of approval from Greenguard. You can view a full list of Greenguard certified products through their website here and avoid the pitfalls of indoor
For more information regarding indoor air pollution, please visit http://www.greenguard.org.
By Tom Vatury. Tom has been in the window treatment industry for over ten years. Horizon Window Treatments is the largest retailer of window treatments in New York City.GreenGuard Certification - Guide for Interior Products,