Building for Asthma and Chemical Sensitivities

Welcome to our new blog site and an our first post on this site.

Our soil tests have been completed and we should have our preliminary tender in about 2 weeks.  In the meantime I have been researching building materials that are better for people with asthma and chemical sensitivities.  Oscar has asthma,  intolerances to food chemicals and his skin is sensitive to chemicals in moisturisers, washes, sunscreens, etc.   The last thing we want is to build a new house that makes him sick or break out in eczema.  The things I’m targeting are paint, coatings for the floor boards and decking and carpets.

The main problem with paints and timber treatments is the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which can be released from products such as paint for up to 10 years.  The health effects of VOCs include (from Australian Government) eye, nose and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.   Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.  Build-ups of VOCs in indoor environments have been associated with ‘sick building syndrome’.

Carpets are a problem for asthmatics.  At the moment we have all floor boards.  In the new house the ground floor will have floor boards throughout, but we thought that would be a bit noisy for the attic flooring.  But can we find a suitable carpet?  The recommendation from the Asthma Foundation if you must have carpet  is short loop pile with synthetic fibres.

One really useful site that I found to help with this is research is  Sensitive Choice.

The Sensitive Choice blue butterfly symbol is given to products and services that support asthma and allergy care. Products that carry the blue butterfly may be better choices for people with asthma and allergies.

Another useful resource was this Choice article on choosing carpets.

The products that we have identified to investigate using are:

Taubmans Easycoat with Microban 

  • Microban® (antibacterial) protection – lasts the life of the paint
  • Low odour
  • Low VOC formulation

Dunlop ComfortChoice underlay

  • Green Label accredited for indoor air quality
  • Ultra-Fresh treated to reduce mould, mildew and dust mites
Karndean Flotex Carpets (Sensitive Choice)
  • Zero VOCs
Natural carpets such as coir, sisal, seagrass and jute.

2 comments on “Building for Asthma and Chemical Sensitivities

  1. Hi, great blog. My heart goes out to u and your son. I’m in the US. I’ve been trying to navigate this chemical world since my son was born with similar problems and I got sick too, 36 yr ago. We found no voc paint not good enough. There is a company here that makes paint especially for chemically sensitive. It’s wonderful quality and also coats the surface to stop outgasing of the wood or plaster. The have stains and lacquer and shampoo. The company is AFM and the product is called Safecoat. U have to buy it from retail stores. I’m having trouble finding replacement windows that aren’t vinyl or composite. I just had an episode with caulk that made me sick. Now I use safe coat. Best of luck