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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Eco Terminology

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs):  Carbon compounds that participate in atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate).  The compounds vaporize (become a gas) at normal room temperatures.  Limits are set on the amount of VOCs permitted in a given volume of a product.  The main products that produce VOCs are adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, carpet systems, composite wood and agrifiber products.  These products are found in our homes, cabinets and furnishings, as many are made from plywood, particle board and MDF (medium density fiberboard).  Don’t you love that new car smell?  That odor is off-gassing from the new carpet, seat cushions, upholstery, foam in the roof and the adhesives to secure them all in place.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS):  Each individual has a unique reaction to drugs based upon their individual metabolism and body chemistry.  Likewise, each individual can react differently when exposed to certain chemicals.  Those with compromised immune systems, like the elderly, infirm or the very young, may be more sensitive to chemicals than others.  Some perfectly healthy individuals may have a high sensitivity to chemicals.  This reaction to chemicals may manifest itself as an acute multiple chemical sensitivity.  Unfortunately, some doctors do not recognize MCS as a diagnosable disease or condition, due to no standard reaction by individuals.  People have a built-in chemical sensitivity detector.  It is called your nose.  A normal human being can detect up to 10,000 odors, if something smells funny or harsh, you are probably right.

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS):  Sick building syndrome covers a range of symptoms thought to be triggered when the sufferer spends time in a particular building.  Symptoms range from itchy eyes, skin rashes, and nasal allergy symptoms, to more vague symptoms, such as fatigue, aches and pains, and sensitivity to odors.  Some specific diseases, such as Legionnaires’ disease, have been attributed to older buildings with cooling towers and inadequate air conditioning systems.

“Building it tight”:  With the increased emphasis on energy conservation, the mantra of “building it tight” to prevent air infiltration has had the negative effect of making indoor air quality suffer.  Our loose, leaky building may have lousy efficiency, but better air quality.  So the correct mantra should be, “Build it tight, but vent it right!”

Rainwater Harvesting System:  Rainwater harvesting captures and stores rainwater for later use.  Captured rainwater is often used in landscaping and flushing toilets because the water does not have to be treated when used for this purpose.  Rainwater harvesting can also help to prevent flooding and erosion by turning storm water runoff into water supply assets.      

Carbon Monoxide Detector:  Carbon monoxide detectors work in a similar way to smoke detectors by monitoring carbon monoxide levels in your home and sounding an alarm if elevated levels are detected.  The majority of carbon monoxide detectors use one of three basic sensor types: electrolytic, colorimetric and metal oxide semiconductor sensors.  All three methods produce similar results with slight variances.  According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one CO2 detector is recommended per household and near the sleeping area.

Sources: epa.gov, tamu.edu, homedepot.com


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