When it Comes to Your Home, ‘Green’ and ‘Healthy’ Aren’t Always the Same Thing

We spend most of our lives inside our home, surrounded by chemicals. They’re everywhere: In the paint and wallpaper, furniture and cleaning supplies we use. Obviously, the fewer hazardous chemicals we breathe in, the better. But how do you determine what is healthy and what isn’t? It can be hard at first, given the absolute torrent of misinformation that’s out there. Trust me, I know from experience! As a builder and remodeler, I specialize in building ‘Green’ with an emphasis on indoor air quality. One of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years is that ‘Green’ products aren’t necessarily healthy. For example, many building products made from recycled materials are laden with chemicals that off-gas into the home, and have a negative impact on indoor air quality.

Also, the fact that a product has a seal or symbol slapped on the packaging declaring it ‘Green’ or ‘Natural’ or ‘Organic’, doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy. There are 100’s of different certifications plastered on products in the US, many of which are pretty meaningless. To determine what’s really healthy for you and your home, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to figure out what the ‘Good’ certifications are. I recently came across this list which is pretty solid: MNN: Green Product Certification.

I’d also recommend checking out Cradle to Cradle, which is one of the certification organizations on the above list. Their website has a searchable database where you can find products they’ve certified: Product Registry – Cradle to Cradle. The database includes cleaning products, carpet and furniture, and building materials, among other things. Another quality certification is Green Seal (also mentioned on the list). Here’s a link to their database of certified products: Green Seal – Find Certified Products.

One thing to keep in mind: Just because a product isn’t certified, doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. Many companies simply don’t bother to submit their products to the certification process. If you’re not sure about a specific product, try to find out what it’s made from, and then consult this list: The Hazardous 100+ List of Chemicals of High Concern. If anything on that list is in a product, try not to buy it! Chances are, there is a more healthy alternative.

All it takes to ensure the health of your home’s interior is a little time and research. Here’s a list of things to think about in your home (from EPA.ORG):

Sources of VOCs

Household products, including:

  • paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • aerosol sprays
  • cleansers and disinfectants
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • pesticide

Other products, including:

  • building materials and furnishings
  • office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper
  • graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.

(Source: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality)

Need More Info?

Green Building and Indoor Air Quality are two subjects that I’m extremely passionate about. If you have any questions about your home, or if you just can’t find the answers you’re looking for online, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to chat with you.


Lou Sagatov, Realtor®


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