Cases like these can be prevented from the start of a project by sourcing healthier materials and products. It is also important to test the indoor air quality after installation to ensure a healthy environment. As an environmental designer and after indepth research, I highly recommend using mafi wood floors for future building and renovation projects. [Michelle Bexelius, Environmental Wellness Design Director]
When sourcing flooring options for interior design projects there are many to choose from that span the spectrum depending on project cost and style. Flooring eats up a large part of the budget of a project, around 10%. While trying to remain on budget and keep with the style of the project many sources for wood flooring fall short when it comes to health and safety for the people inhabiting the space.
Many wood flooring companies have pollutants like formaldehyde in their products as well as adhesives. The pollutants in formaldehyde can off gas up to 15 years in an indoor environment.
The people who come into contact with formaldehyde acutely or long term are at risk for mild to severe health issues. Being an environmental designer trained in building biology, healthy building and remodeling focusing on indoor air quality and electromagnetic fields, I have seen hundreds of cases of environmental toxin exposure and a large percentage have come from pre engineered wood products containing formaldehyde.
This is a case study on why sourcing healthier wood flooring products is vital in preventing chronic health issues like asthma in children after family who moved into a newly built home that proved to be toxic from formaldehyde adhesives in pre engineered wood flooring.
A few years ago a family of 4 (mother, father, baby, toddler) moved into a brand new 3,000 square foot home with new wood floors, cabinetry and carpet and other traditional building products. What happens to them is something you would never wish upon anyone close to you. The children, 8 months old and 2 years and their mother were continually sick with cold symptoms that lasted for more than two months, unusually long after cold and flu season. This was when I was contacted to perform indoor air quality testing to find out if there was something in their home making them sick. After walking in the door I was instantly struck with a strong load of a chemical smell, the room climate was stagnant and heavy. I instantly felt lightheaded and anxious.
After the test results came back from the lab, it was clear there were elevated levels of formaldehyde, 87 ppb (parts per billion) to be exact. Levels 0-16 ppb are the range within acceptable limits. We then determined the source of formaldehyde was coming from the adhesives underneath the pre-engineered wood flooring. The builder was alerted and said they would help mitigate the problem.
They installed a new heat recovery ventilation (HRV) unit to help move the air, but the company didn’t balance the indoor air quality correctly, nor install it correctly and they ended up putting in an electrostatic air cleaner that produced a significant amount of ozone. I noticed this when I visited the home again to consult and I couldn’t even be in the home due to the heavy amount of pollutants in the air. I recommended the reinstall the HRV system using a more experienced Heating and Cooling (HVAC) company as well as removing the electrostatic cleaner.
I did recommend to my client that they could replace the flooring with healthy wood floors but they had already spent so much money on hotels, doctor’s bills, consultants, testing and appliances to help their environment. If they had replaced the wood floors with mafi European Oak floors and removed the carpets they would have had a much healthier environment and saved a lot of money. They thought that all new homes off gassed and that their new home would do so within a few months and didn’t realize it would take up to 15 years and have their baby now a toddler suffer from chronic asthma.
My clients ended up taking the builder to court to educate, create awareness and redeem the money lost that was spent trying to mitigate a problem they didn’t sign up for. They won their case and now the builder hopefully has awareness of using healthier building products and materials in their future projects.
Now is the perfect time as a interior designer and architect to source healthier products and materials for your clients health. Choose products and materials that are certified, healthy and safe for humans and the environment. Mafi has been making quality, emission free, high performing, greener wood floors for decades. Mafi wood floors have a declare label and red list free label from the International Future Living Institute. Mafi wood flooring products can be seen all over the world in working spaces for the future, high level corporate offices and wellness clinics.
Cases like these can be prevented from the start of a project by sourcing healthier materials and products. It is also important to test the indoor air quality after installation to ensure a healthy environment. As an environmental designer and after indepth research, I highly recommend using mafi wood floors for future building and renovation projects.
Michelle is the founder of DesignWell Studios, an environmental design and branding agency that specializes in health and well-being for the healthy building and wellness industries.
Michelle's firm, DesignWell Studios designs for people in mind optimizing the built environment for health and well-being. She helps develop brands for the wellness and sustainability industry helping them match their philosophy to their environment. She has been featured as an indoor air quality expert on television and have designed and won several design challenges centering around biophilic design supporting health issues and creating awareness on healthy environments (Sustainable Choice Winner and People’s Choice Winner for Serving Up Style/Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus). She did an episode for HGTV/Green Living Channel It’s Easy Being Green focusing on healthy and sustainable interiors for an eco nursery.
Michelle got a more in depth education on Healthy Building and Remodeling, Indoor Air Quality and Electromagnetic Fields from the Institute of Building-Biology and Ecology and has been conducting
wellness assessments and performing environmental tests in built environments for over 15 years. Michelle specializes in indoor air quality and Electromagnetic Fields so people can have peace of mind knowing if their environment is healthy or not and to help them with positive, intelligent solutions and products that support their well being.
Michelle has have helped many clients redesign their environments to a healthier place who have suffered from illnesses such as leukemia, asthma, cancer, environmental toxins and mental illness. She has worked on many cases involving poor indoor air quality stemming from engineered wood flooring and cabinets that was made with formaldehyde. It is her purpose to help spread the message of healthy building materials, finishes and furnishings throughout the design/build community and beyond.