How do I make sure my new home does not contain high levels of VOC's before I move in?
We are building a new home in Tennessee. We will be moving in with a toddler who has a history of asthma and a 4 month old. I'm very concerned about the amount of chemicals in the home and do not want my family exposed to them. We have chosen hard wood floors but other than that I am not sure what materials have been used. Our builder is Drees.
In short answer form, “Flush Out”. It is a process technique “of forcing air through a building for a period of time before occupation to remove some of the pollutants that off-gas from newly installed components, fresh paint, materials, finishes, and furnishings. The goal of this process is to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the building prior to occupation by limiting exposure to the severe period of contamination and lowering the cross-contamination between materials.” - Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative website To further explain this process I will point you to a very well written article that the Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative has posted on their site. Here is the link: http://www.mnshi.umn.edu/kb/scale/flushout.html There are also some alternative options listed that could be adapted to your particular situation. I.e. “air out” technique could be done in a covered porch or enclosed backyard for any new off-gassing items that will be brought into the home. And be sure to change your filters after the “flush out” process and on a regular schedule. Also look into getting the “best filtration quality”=Highest MERV rated filter for your particular air handler unit for at least the first year. After all of this initial work to establish a home with good IAQ, it would be good to maintain it by establishing a family protocol for the selection of cleaning materials both in your home and in your cars. By doing the leg work now, you will know what products are safer to use around your family. Here is another excellent link that will assist you with this: http://greenguard.org/en/consumers.aspx And be sure to download the “Nursery Checklist” which is a filled with excellent reminders. So in review, "flush out" the house, "air out" any new items entering the house, maintain a good routine of changing your air filters, and establish a checklist of family approved cleaning supplies. As a final step you could get an IAQ sampling test done for a baseline but see what you can do first to lower the potential offenders and give yourself a peace of mind that you can take control of this.