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Why Do We Care?

Exposure to chemicals has health and environmental implications. Learn about why we should care about healthier building and materials selection.

Skyscrapers reach towards the sky in a bustling downtown city. A row of homes sit quietly in a neighborhood. There is a fresh coat of paint in an office.

If you look around, you may see different types of buildings. This same variation applies to the interior of a building too, and that’s the place where we spend a lot of our time. But what are the human health implications for creating such buildings?

When someone walks into a newly constructed house it has a certain smell – sometimes called a “new place smell”. Opening the windows is a great way to air out that smell. But where does the smell come from? That smell is the result of the chemicals used in certain building products off gassing chemicals into the space. The same principle applies to new furniture, a new car, and many more products.

Being exposed to the toxic chemicals that are released from building products is a concern. This is why it’s important to:

  • Identify what causes that exposure from a building
  • Characterize what this exposure means
  • Understand the degree of negative health impact these toxic chemicals have on people

Such information is extremely useful. We can find ways to reduce the risk of exposure from toxic building materials for all of us.

Over to You

Have you ever walked into a new building or purchased a new product that had a distinct smell? If not, can you think of someone who has described this to you? Discuss your initial reaction and whether you considered if that smell was toxic or not.

This article is from the free online

Healthier Building Materials and Human Health

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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