Look Book Issue 3 | Be Well 20/20 | Air
INDOOR AIR QUALITY BY TARKETT
The quality of indoor air is directly impacted by its surroundings. Finishes that emit odors or trap particles can contribute to physical irritation and health issues. To help take control and mitigate these effects, manufacturers of architectural materials and finishes are taking extra steps in creating ‘healthier’ products.
Scott Rice/Image Flooring reached out to one of our partners, Tarkett, to learn more about their efforts by providing flooring products that can help improve air quality.
We’re allergic to bad Indoor Air Quality.
How long do you spend inside? You might be surprised to learn that, on average, we spend 90% of our life indoors. It’s why the quality of the air we breathe inside is such a major factor in our health and wellbeing. However, global trends show that people who suffer from allergies and asthma is on the increase. 14% of children worldwide are now affected by asthma and it has become a major cause of school absenteeism. Good air quality can make a difference. In fact, it has even been proven to impact office productivity levels by improving the ability to concentrate and process information. Studies show a productivity increase of up to 5% when air quality improves.
At Tarkett, we know that the floor covering you choose is linked to the quality of the indoor air you breathe. That’s a responsibility we take very seriously and for decades we have championed the importance of products that offer the best indoor air quality possible. We’re leading the way in designing products that promote comfortable, healthy environments. For example, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation given us their seal of approval for our vinyl sheet products (IQ Optima and IQ Granit) and LVT flooring with exceptionally low volatile organic compounds (VOC) emission levels. Levels so low, they are unquantifiable.
For us ‘good enough’ is never good enough. We see the human impact indoor air quality can have.
When I think of asthma, I think of people using an inhaler and assumed that was the best way to manage asthma. Then, a year ago, I heard about a caseworker at a Baltimore children’s hospital. She was concerned about the number of children coming to the emergency room with asthma attacks and often for repetive visits. The only help she could offer the parents was more medication for the children. Her view of asthma was missed school days, too much medication for children: stress and missed work days for parents. She believed there had to be a better answer. She reached out to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation for help. What she learned was that the environment you live in has more impact on your health then she realized. Taking more medication was just covering up the underlying issues of the conditions the children lived in.
She worked with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and Green & Healthy Homes to target the families she saw in the emergency the most. These families were from an area with high levels of poverty, poor housing quality and other issues that can have an impact on asthma. They found the children were living in homes with mold, lead paint, no insulation, poor ventilation and old carpet among other issues. One of the children she had gotten to know was DeWayne. Dewayne had been at the emergency room almost every week. Many times having to stay overnight. Dewayne would then miss those days of school and his Mom would miss work. The caseworker began to see that Dewayne’s asthma was not just a health issue, it was also a social economic issue and education issue. That his home was making him sick.
She initiated a program to renovate the homes for these families. She wanted to create a safe and healthy environment for them to live in. She worked with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation to also educate the families on conditions in the home that could trigger the asthma attacks. The homes were cleared of mold, leaking windows and gutters were repaired so water wouldn’t get in, pest management was put in place, mattresses, pillows and floor covering with the Asthma and allergy certification were installed. Dewayne’s home was one of those renovated. Since the renovation Dewayne has only been to the emergency room once every 3 months. Since Dewayne is not missing school his grades have gone from barely passing to passing. His Mom has had more days of employment, giving the family more financial security. As well as a cost savings from not having to visit the emergency room.
This shows that the spaces we live in and work could have a larger impact on our health than our Doctor does. That without a safe and healthy space for children the impact on education, social economics and health for the next generation with be detrimental.
As a manufacture it showed me that we must be diligent in creating products from healthy materials. Our products have to be durable but, they are impacting people’s health in a real way.
Roxane SPEARS, LEED AP
Vice President Sustainability North America
Abbey HELLAND, Account Executive
Taylor GROSSENKEMPER, Account Executive
FIRST IMAGE: Client: DiGiorgio Associates Architects (617) 723-7100 225 Friend Street Suite 300 Boston MA 02144 // Project: Shriners Hospital for Children Imaging Suite – Boston, MA // For more information Contact Gregg Shupe 508-877-7700 www.Shupestudios.com