Have you smelt that “new” smell in a new home? If you have asthma, allergies or sensitivity to chemicals you will definitely have noticed it because it probably made you feel ill!
The reason indoor air can cause such a reaction is because it contains a toxic mix that can trigger many health problems, particularly in new or newly renovated homes. The good health of our clients is our highest priority so we combat this worrying issue with our integral VOC prevention and removal service.
This practice makes sure our clients move into their new homes able to breathe clean, fresh, healthy air right from the beginning. We even test the air to make sure it meets our high standards. We have had clients even tell us that their health has improved.
Find out below why indoor air after renovation is toxic, why you should know how bad it is and how we can help improve your health and get you breathing fresh, clean air at home!
What Is This Toxic Mix In The Air?
Here in Hong Kong we face the usual combination of outdoor air pollution issues from industry, traffic fumes, temperature and humidity. This is intensified by the activities we carry out in our homes that contribute to poor indoor air quality such as cooking fumes, cleaning products, artificial scented fresheners and personal care aerosols.
However, when renovating or building a new home this creates a whole load MORE issues that negatively impact the indoor air quality.
Harmful VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) are given off by all the elements that are used to create a new home such as paints, adhesives, sealants, grout, wood stains and varnishes, new flooring, carpets, insulation, furniture, wood and plywood veneer (containing formaldehyde) and phthalates in plastics. Any construction work can also produce a huge amount of dust if not contained properly through the build process.
This unhealthy concoction of elements combines to produce a nasty mix in the air that can linger for weeks, months or even years.
For more in depth info see this blog on how to design and live in a non-toxic home.
Or this blog on preventing toxic materials polluting your home.
What Problems Does The Air Cause?
Breathing the air we’ve described can cause a whole range of health problems, particularly for those who may already have respiratory sensitivities such as asthma.
VOC’s can cause asthma, allergies and skin conditions such eczema along with sore throats, headaches, nausea, eye and nose irritation and poor sleep quality. If there is lengthy exposure, VOC’s have been linked to heart disease and cancer.
As we spend such a large amount of time in our homes (its estimated at 90% inside buildings), it makes sense to remove as many of these harmful elements as possible.
Our Complete Air Flush Out Service
Our entire unique, healthy design process from beginning to end is tailored to safeguard our clients health and to minimise VOC’s entering the property.
We follow rigorous procedures so that toxic materials are not used in any part of our projects. This includes strict construction guidelines for our contractors to follow on dust protection and contamination. It also means the specifying of low or zero VOC materials in every area, such as composite woods that do not contain formaldehyde and paints that do not give off VOC’s.
Despite ensuring that our process minimises VOC’s coming in, we still believe that the most important thing for us to do at the end of a project to guard our client’s health is a full air flush out to remove all remaining VOC’s from the air.
This process takes a minimum of 48 hours. We open all the internal doors, along with air pockets such as draws and cupboards throughout the rooms and force fresh air through the home to flush out any residual VOC’s and toxic pollutants. Humidity and temperature must also be controlled during this time.
After the flush we carry out extensive air quality tests to make sure that it is at good levels.
These photos are some examples of air quality tests from a recent project, where we are measuring the VOC’s in different areas to check that they are at healthy levels. This was aided by a IQAir specialist.
All these measurements were taken prior to our full air flush out service, and these small spaces were left open during the process to ensure the whole space was cleared of VOC’s.
The dining area has a reading (shown below) of 173 PPB, this is a good reading even prior to opening the windows or conducting the air flush out.
Here’s another property we’re currently working on, illustrated here as a rendering.
The air quality readings went from ‘Serious’ – see the bottom box in the photo below…
To ‘Slight’ just by opening the windows and prior to a full air flush out.
Another measure we take is to make sure there is a break between completing our work and the clients moving in so that we can carry out the flush, ensuring they move into a home that smells clean, fresh and where the air is the healthiest it can be.
We suggest to install real time air quality monitors throughout our projects so that our clients can take steps to improve the air quality as soon as it falls below acceptable levels.
We have carefully honed this system into our services so our healthy design process and our full air flush out and testing do not greatly increase the design and build costs.
How Can You Flush Out Your Own Home?
If you have an air purification system it will improve the quality of the air in your newly renovated home but not quickly enough in comparison to a flush out.
If you want to carry out a fast fresh air flush in your home the most important thing is to keep the windows open and allow as much fresh air to circulate as possible for as long as possible.
This may sound counterintuitive when it’s clear that sometimes the air outside is very polluted. However when the air quality outside is at acceptable levels, opening the windows will ventilate the space and rejuvenate it with new air, removing the old stale air laden with toxins. This will also lower CO2 levels leaving you feeling less tired and giving better sleep quality.
Fans can also be used for 48 hours to help with the air movement in and out of the windows. Buy an air quality monitor and test the air yourself before moving in and make sure that the space is flushed out with fresh air long enough till it is safe according to your monitor. Your health is number one.
An alternative is a service offered by Johnson Group, Hong Kong for VOC Formaldehyde removal after renovations; for more information, click here.
Healthy Air In a Healthy New Home
Any renovation is can be an expensive labour of love, but why do all that work to make your home beautiful, without protecting the health of your family at the same time?
Our service is not the norm for Hong Kong or many parts of the world; however, we believe that these measures are vital to safeguard health in our homes and that fresh clean air is one of the true luxuries in life. We feel peace of mind to go that extra step for our client’s safety, especially where existing health problems exist.
At Liquid Interiors we have found that this approach really improves the experience of moving into a new home, where the air is fresh and safe for everyone to live and sleep in. Feedback from clients is overwhelmingly positive and many of them have seen immediate improvements in their health.
If you suffer from asthma, allergies or poor sleep you’ll find that by implementing a clean air strategy and improving the air quality in your renovation it will improve your symptoms and overall health.
All the interior photographs in this blog are taken from our recent Giverny project that has excellent air quality due to all the steps we’ve taken to make sure it is a healthy home. See more photographs of this project here.
Please get in touch to find out more about our healthy and eco approach to interior design projects.
“Quality is Always Sustainable”