Remodeling and indoor air pollution

Whotel_3We hope our remodels will beautify our homes, not pollute them.

But that’s exactly what happens when the various glues, paints, fabric finishes, formaldehyde and other marvels of manufacturing start outgassing from the new remodel and into our lungs, skin, eyes and mouths. With its new focus on leaded toys from China, I’m pretty sure the Consumer Product Safety Commission does not have time to rigorously test the effect of each of these outgassing remodeling goods on our bodies, much less their cumulative effects. So it’s a case of buyer beware.

I was reminded of this in a review of the W Los Angeles-Westwood Hotel’s new remodel in the newspaper. While the hotel is swank and stylish, the reviewer’s experience was diminished by the "air pollution, inside and out" caused by outgassing carpeting glues, among other toxins. Happily, she had an operable window (rare in upscale hotels, which is why I prefer camping in my conversion van whenever possible) so she could bring a tiny bit of fresh air into her $339-a-night hotel room.

But can you imagine a baby or child in a room with new carpeting or cabinets or furniture who could not arrange for that open window? Imagine the crankiness and discomfort that would have no apparent cause.

Not too long ago, I wrote about a couple who created their Santa Barbara remodel with the health of their children in mind. They didn’t like the idea of their new baby sucking up formaldehyde fumes from the out-gassing cabinets, and so they didn’t include formaldehyde in their remodel. And they used paints with fewer toxins and included a superior whole-house ventilation system.

After all, remodeling should lift us up, not bring us down. Right?

See more on green remodeling and the Forbes Traveler guide to 10 of the greenest hotels in America.

Photo courtesy of Sherwood Hotels