I and my team here at Span floors wish you a very happy and prosperous new year! However, I say that with a heavy heart. Coming back from work yesterday, I was once again appalled looking at the dense smog I found myself in during the rush evening hours. Visibility was a disaster and the effect was overwhelming on the psyche, to say the least leaving aside the body. Each breath seemed like I was taking more toxins in and the worse part, that I had no choice in that moment but to inhale. So just wishing a Happy new year certainly does not make one! Something needs to be done.
Our country now has the dubious distinction of having the most no. of cities with highly polluted air. And not only the outdoor air, latest research points to an even more dangerous fact. It seems indoor air is also grossly polluted though not as highlighted. So a person does not have respite even when he retreats to his or her home and have access to something as fundamental and basic as clean air. It may not be visible pollution (in case of urban environments) but certainly, toxicity arising from harmful chemicals and other materials. In rural India, indoor air is polluted by the fossil fuels used while cooking (coal, wood and cow dung). However, in the urban India which is developing, particularly the homes of HNI’s, the biggest source of indoor air pollution are pollutants such as aldehydes, volatile, and semivolatile organic compounds which are produced from resins, waxes, polishing materials, household cleaners, cosmetics, and binders. Lastly; biological pollutants like dust mites, molds, pollen, and infectious agents produced in stagnant water, mattresses, carpets, and humidifiers pollute indoor air.
That said, let us focus on the solutions. A lot of data is available on outdoor pollutants so I will focus on the indoor air, particularly relevant to the building and construction industry:
- Switch to cleaner building & maintenance materials (benign organic cleaners & disinfectants, indoor air quality certified wood products such as flooring, furniture, plywood and boards, paints etc) – When you buy or specify a material, check the impact of the product on the indoor air quality. There are 3rd party certifications such as GreenGuard, CARB etc available today that measure the impact of the particular product on indoor air quality.
- Go into a little detail before you specify or buy – I hear this at times ‘who has the time to go into so much detail’ or ‘No-one wants to listen to this marketing stuff. It is the price that customers are interested in’ etc. Well, detail means ‘hard work’. And certainly, some people want to avoid it. Sadly, there are no shortcuts in life. If one avoids detail, one is bound to be superficial and bear the consequences.
- When you compare any product, the right question to ask regarding the price is ‘Why is ‘x’ product cheaper?’ or ‘Why is ‘x’ product priced higher?’. Listening to the answer patiently might reveal a wealth of data that allows for a better decision.
- As a specifier, contractor or a worker, the level of exposure is the highest as during the initial construction period, the majority of the off-gassing happens (products releasing harmful gaseous substances). So it makes sense to take due care while specifying.
At Span floors, we have been focussing on stocking and promoting wood floors that are 3rd party certified on indoor air quality. Not only that, we ensure that the wood used arises from sustainable forestry. A big chunk of our floors conforms to the highest and most respected certifications & regulations in the field (CE, PEFC, FSC, GreenGuard etc). We are not sitting and being in apathy about this rather taking action for a meaningful change, howsoever small. On a lighter note, we are making ‘A happy new year’ happen and request your support in the endeavor! Wishing you once again an action filled, positive change oriented ‘Happy 2018’.