More on Linoleum & IAQ

More on Linoleum & IAQ

Dear Editor:

I read your recent article about linoleum (October 1998) and was particularly interested in the section dealing with indoor air quality, which I felt you covered well. However, I was very disappointed with your conclusion to “recommend it widely.”

You seem to be fostering an attitude that, while not universal, is relatively common among green building enthusiasts. That is, to give human health issues a back seat to planetary health issues. I couldn’t disagree more.

A house (or office, or school, etc.) meant for human occupancy should, first of all, address any issues that affect the health of the people inside—after that you can tackle all the other green building issues. I’m sure you would never recommend buying a car that allowed a small amount of exhaust to routinely enter the cab—even if it got 100 miles per gallon. Why recommend a building product that is known to be a source of outgassing?

The first green building principle should

always be good indoor air quality. If you don’t insure that, what’s the point? Linoleum and vinyl may very well be tolerable for many healthy people (although they’re not for hypersensitive people), but should we be building houses or public buildings that are “tolerable” and only suitable for robust, healthy people? Let’s especially not promote materials that have the potential to damage human health in places like schools, nursing homes, or hospitals. Or, for that matter, in houses where there are also often young children, the elderly, and the infirm.

John Bower

The Healthy House Institute

Bloomington, Indiana

Published October 1, 1998

(1998, October 1). More on Linoleum & IAQ. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/more-linoleum-iaq

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