Northwest Community Hospital

WIN 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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2 7 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m W I N T E R 2 015 S P I R I T O F W O M E N SHUTTERSTOCK It can be tricky to sift through fooring manufacturers' state- ments about their products' sustainability or health benefts. These third-party organizations can help: • UL's GREENGUARD certifcation program identifes products that meet rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards. • The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) maintains lists of woods that come from sustainably managed forests. • The Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Plus Program may help evaluate carpets, pads and adhesives before you buy. For more information I t may be hard to believe that a surface often covered in mud, dog hair and the remnants of spilled milk can be good for your health. But the right flooring choices can actually make a difference in your indoor air quality and the overall healthiness of your home. If you have small children crawling on the floor, you've probably already thought about this. But it turns out that the right flooring can impact those of us who are old enough to walk on two feet too. THINK LONG-TERM Unlike a new duvet cover or a fresh coat of paint, your flooring selection could stay in your house for decades, says Scott Steady, product manager for Indoor Air Quality at UL Environment, an independent safety science company, so you'll want to spend some time investigating your options. Thinking about a healthy home flooring solution also means considering how the choice will help heat or cool your house. If you are using less air conditioning, for example, you'll save on electricity and have a lower carbon footprint, but you'll also be more likely to open the windows. That allows in more fresh air, reducing chemicals at home and improving indoor air quality. THE LOOK OF GOOD HEALTH Your choices of flooring will depend on the colors and textures you like, of course, but if you're looking for sustainable materials you'll want renewable options like bamboo, cork or palm wood. These materials can be replaced relatively easily after they are har- vested, unlike wood from a slow-growing tree, which can take decades to replace. Avoid petroleum-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC) flooring or laminates (they may contain wood pulp or wood chips), which can pose a host of health and environmental problems. You can also consider raw materials from companies that use sustainable harvesting processes and properly manage forests, says Jason Brubaker, vice president of Virginia-based Nydree Flooring, whose low-emitting flooring from reclaimed woods has been installed in the San Francisco 49ers Levi's Stadium and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. If wood isn't your thing, you can also find healthy carpet products, but it requires some research. Look for natural or recycled synthetic fibers rather than new synthetic products. Big box retailers and specialty shops now offer wide selections in any color you can imagine. Choosing rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting? Opt for padding and backs that are sewn on rather than applied with glues or chemicals. If you can't replace the current carpet in your home but suspect it is outgassing chemicals, try a sealant like SafeChoice Carpet Seal. It's less expensive than replacing the carpet and may stop chemicals from releasing into the air. MORE THAN JUST THE FLOOR Once you've selected a healthy, sustainable floor- ing material, make sure the installation or finishing chemicals don't undo all your hard work. Look beyond the flooring materials to the whole process, seeking low-emitting products with fewer volatile organic com- pounds (VOCs). The chemicals to adhere the materials, the finishes to make them glossy and the pads behind the carpet are all important. Use your nose: That "new carpet" smell may be formaldehyde, which is a VOC and can cause allergic reactions like skin irritation and wheezing, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. No matter what flooring products you choose, UL Environment's Steady suggests providing additional ventilation during the installation process. That way, any chemicals used during the install are dissipated more quickly. After the flooring is in place, vacuum it regularly to get rid of trapped dirt and allergens, he adds. And of course, use chemical-free cleaning supplies if you want to keep your flooring chemical free. •

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