March 1, 2004
Since 2004, GreenHomeNYC has presented monthly articles on green building construction, renovations, and management in The Cooperator, a Yale Robbins newspaper serving 3,300 New York City cooperatives and condominiums.
Fumes and Formaldehyde
Taking Steps to Detox Your Building
By Joshua Radoff
Everyone knows the air in New York isn’t the best stuff in the world to breathe. But what most people don’t know is that the indoor environment is often more polluted and toxic than the world outdoors. In fact, a recent EPA study found that the indoor concentrations of 20 toxic compounds can be as much as 200 times higher compared to the relatively pristine urban outdoors. So let’s start with a basic – and, hopefully, obvious – principle: If it’s poisonous, carcinogenic, triggers asthma, or wreaks havoc on your nervous system, you probably don’t want it in your building. Seems like common sense, right? And yet most of the products we use to build and maintain our buildings are portable Superfund sites, making their way Trojan Horse-like, into our common and living spaces. The good news for building owners and managers is that once you know what to look for, keeping the toxins out is a relatively easy thing to do.