Also fueling the demand for green products were concerns about “product toxicity,” a term that, in recent years, has been used to describe the potential health impacts (particularly among children) of chemical and particulate exposure.
Research has shown that health complications can occur as a result of exposure to chemicals at extremely low levels.
Minute levels of phthalates, for example— which are used to make toys, building materials, drug capsules, cosmetics, and perfumes—have been linked to sperm damage in men and genital changes, asthma, and allergies in children (Waldman 2005, Bornehag et al 2004).
Disruption of the endocrine system (hormones), gene activation, and brain development have also been linked to chemical exposure in homes and schools.
A growing body of research also suggests that exposure to chemical emissions—in particular, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from common indoor materials and finishes—can have numerous adverse health effects, including an increased risk of asthma, pulmonary infections, and allergies.
Exposure to formaldehyde, benzene, phthalate esters, cleaning products, personal care products, flooring, paints, and plastics have all been linked to health problems (Mendell 2007).
Not surprisingly, protecting individual and family health is the top motivator among consumers for taking action to protect the environment (Coyle 2004). A full discussion of these studies is beyond the scope of this paper.
For more information, see the AQS white paper, Chemicals in COMMON Products: Risky Business for Children’s Health, which is available free of charge from the AQS – Aerias IEQ Resource Center at www.aerias.org, under the Premium Content tab.
Also see the following AQS white papers for more information about the risk to health from poor indoor air quality (IEQ), the history of IEQ and energy conservation during the past 40 years and for a comparison of green building and green product certification programs around the world:
• IEQ and Children’s Health
• Indoor Air Quality & Sensitive Population Groups
• Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Partnering to Protect Human Health
• Green Building Rating Systems (Certification Programs): A Comparison
• Primary Green Product Standards and Certification Programs: A Comparison 18 © 2010 Air Quality Sciences, Inc. CITATIONS Amatruda J. 2010. Evaluating and Selecting Green