Most of us spend almost 80% of our time indoors. The only times we spend outdoors are kept mimimal; probably during the commute to work if taking public transport, going out of office for meals or going out to participate in a specific outdoor activity. Interestingly, although we spend most of our time indoors, not many people pays much attention to indoor environmental quality and its impact on our health and productivity. Did you know that you might be exposed to chemical pollutants even in your own home and office?
Why the concern for indoor air quality?
“We found that the indoor air was much more polluted than outdoor air,” said Dr. Marilyn Black. This is because inevitably, almost every object releases substances into the air and most furniture are made of or treated with synthetic materials which can give off gases that contain toxic chemicals. Long term exposure to these toxic chemicals may lead to respiratory illnesses and other health effects, which is why indoor air quality is a top priority for environmental consumers, groups, and manufacturers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers indoor air quality one of the top five environmental threats to human health. Therefore, the use of green furniture is very important. It does more than just protecting the planet; it protects you and your employees’ health as well.
What is GREENGUARD?
GREENGUARD certification is a third-party validation from respected and accredited organisation in the furniture, building, and architectural industry. This certification is being awarded by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI). The GEI is an independent industry, non-profit organisation that establishes standards and testing for indoor products. Founded in 2001, GEI aims to promote indoor air quality issues and to improve public health and the quality of life by helping manufacturers build better and safer products. One aspect of GEI’s mission is to provide performance-based standards for manufacturing goods for indoor use. These standards specifies the chemical and particle emission thresholds for goods such as furniture, building materials, cleaning products, and electronics equipment, among other categories.
What does GREENGUARD Certified mean?
Field-validated and performance based standards are used in the GREENGUARD certification. The GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification Program identifies low-emitting products, finishes and materials for indoor environments. In order for products and materials to qualify, they must prove the use of low chemical and particle emissions for indoor use. Yet this is still insufficient to retain the GREENGUARD certification, as all products are required to be re-tested every year for more than 10,000 individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
With such stringent requirements, you can be sure that when a product bears the GREENGUARD certification, it means that this product is suited for indoor spaces in such a way that the product meets strict chemical emissions guidelines. Products that have achieved GREENGUARD certification are scientifically proven to meet some of the world’s most rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards. Besides creating healthier indoor environments, it also helps to decrease indoor air pollution and the risk of chemical exposure. The idea is to create healthier interiors free from harmful emissions. Companies that attain GREENGUARD certification gain greater credibility when they make sustainability claims.
Now that you have an understanding that furniture with GREENGUARD certification means that the furniture is of low toxicity, you can start by looking into improving the air quality in your home and office by purchasing furniture that are GREENGUARD certified. It is important to create a safe and healthy environment for everyone. At Benel, we strive to make your workplace a healthier one.