People spend about 90 percent of their time indoors where air pollution levels are typically 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, according to the Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI), a not-for-profit organization. The primary sources of pollution are furnishings and building materials as well as everyday processes like cleaning and cooking. These products and activities can release thousands of potentially harmful pollutants, primarily volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and respirable particles, into the air. Breathing these pollutants can affect human health and has been linked to a variety of health problems, including allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders and some forms of cancer.
In an effort to help people understand indoor air pollution and the simple ways they can combat it in their homes, the GEI unveiled an interactive animated house tour online, which allows users to take a virtual "walk through" of a family residence while learning about common sources of indoor air pollution.
The computer-generated, two-story home features a fully-equipped kitchen, living room, den, bathroom, master bedroom, and nursery, as well as a basement that's undergoing renovation-each furnished with common household products and materials that are known to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Once a user "enters" a room, he or she can scroll over the various products to learn more about their chemical emissions, as well as other sources of indoor air pollution, and discover straightforward solutions.
"Indoor air quality is one of those concepts that can be difficult to get your head around because it seems so abstract. By creating this animated home tour, we hope to bring the concept of indoor air quality to life and make it more relatable to the average person," says Henning Bloech, executive director of GEI. "I think most people will be surprised to see just how many of the products they use in their home contribute to indoor air pollution. But they'll be equally as surprised to learn just how easy it is to make the air in their homes healthier."
The animated house, officially unveiled today, is available for "tours" on the GREENGUARD Website. GEI encourages parents, grandparents, teachers, community leaders, and green building and design professionals to use the virtual house as an educational tool.