HEALTH AND WELLBEING
With sustainability now a mainstream issue attention has naturally begun to shift towards considering the effects manmade products have, not only on the environment but on our own health and wellbeing.
The serious exposure to manmade products in our home is not yet fully understood but research into the effects of indoor air quality has been around for decades. Sources of indoor air pollutants both at home and at work have been identified as having negative effects on people’s health.
INDOOR AIR POLLUTION AND WHERE IT COMES FROM
It’s somewhat easy to make the direct connection between how household products like cleaning products and disinfectants could contribute towards indoor air quality, but what about other sources that may not be so obvious?
A recent report carried out in partnership with the Clean Air Day campaign, and undertaken by indoor air pollution experts Airtopia found that nearly half of the UK households are experiencing dangerous levels of indoor air pollution. The infograph pictured left shows some of hidden dangers in your home and where they come from.
These chemicals can affect people’s health in a variety of ways, from breathing difficulties to eye irritation and even nerve damage. The long-term effects on people’s health are not yet realised but there are some things we do already know about VOC’s and SVOC’s.
SVOC’s AND VOC’s EXPLAINED
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases deemed harmful to humans.
Air quality is affected by these emissions, so it is essential to minimise exposure to them. Because of this, there are many standards and guidelines set to measure and report on the VOC emissions from most building materials, paint, furniture and furnishings such as carpet.
Additionally, new research into indoor airborne pollutants has unveiled further pollutants known as Semi Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOC’s) which are emitted from synthetic man-made materials such as vinyl and plastics. SVOC’s are pollutants at the molecular level, not bonded to the core materials and tend to be emitted at higher temperatures.
Research into the adverse health effects of SVOC’s are still at an early stage but links are now being made between these molecular airborne pollutants and many existing health and well-being issues.
At Ted Todd we have done extensive research and testing into our products and we are very proud to be the first wood flooring company in the world able to display the SVOC FREE logo on all of our wood-based products. All of Ted Todd’s products fall well inside the strictest guidelines and they comply with BS EN14342 class E1.
HOW ELSE CAN WOOD FLOORS HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
The case for using only natural products in your building is overwhelming but there are many other ways choosing a wood floor can further benefit the environment.
The manufacture of PVC is very energy intensive, making it a net contributor to atmospheric CO2. Compare this to the effects of using wood as a material base which reduces the atmospheric CO2 levels by storing carbon in the wood fibres.
Forests re-planted after harvesting produce 1 tonne of O2 and absorb 1.4 tonnes of atmospheric CO2 for every tonne of wood produced. Wood flooring systems therefore effect a negative Carbon Footprint on the environment. 1m2 of 20mm wood flooring stores a carbon equivalent of 20Kg of atmospheric CO2. Which can also help to provider safer air quality in your home.
Wood flooring products are unique in that they can easily be restored, refurbished, re-fashioned, repaired, sanded and re-sealed. Even at the very end of life, wood floors can be easily recycled into reclaimed flooring for further use, which contributes to the circular life of our products.
Compare this with any other form of flooring, especially vinyl-based plastic products such as LVT, which really are just single-use products only fit to be thrown away to landfill when they get old or damaged.
Not only is the environmental aspect of the production of LVT and PVC purely damaging from the CO2 and eventual landfill impact, it must be remembered that PVC is responsible for toxic and corrosive gasses not just during production of the raw material, but also when melted.
PVC is also well noted as being particularly resistant to environmental degradation. Being manufactured from oil by-products, PVC is not a sustainable product, nor healthy when compared to wood products from certified forest sources. PVC being the main ingredient in vinyl and LVT flooring hits the environment in many negative ways.