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Blog/Opinion: Are Your Building Materials Healthful?

By HHI Staff

Houses used to be built of native materials. If there were a lot of rocks in the area, the houses were constructed of stone. If trees happened to be plentiful, the houses were made of wood. Eskimos built igloos with what was available to them. Today, building materials are very similar throughout the civilized world. Plywood, fiberglass insulation, and chemically treated lumber are a routine sight at construction projects everywhere—even though these common building materials can lead to indoor air pollution and ill health.


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Construction practices have changed considerably over the last one-hundred years, but the most significant changes have occurred since World War II. With the invention of modern adhesives, plywood and particle board are now widely used in houses. They are notorious for releasing formaldehyde gas. Synthetic plastics of various types are also now used extensively in the construction industry. Simulated-wood-grain plastic doors, synthetic paints, caulking, and foam insulation all contribute to an indoor environment that has never existed before in the history of the human race.


Fortunately, newer, more benign materials are now available. These include soy-based foam insulation, CARB-2 compliant kitchen cabinets, and much more.



HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)

Are Your Building Materials Healthful?:  Created on April 19th, 2014.  Last Modified on March 10th, 2015


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