By Rita Carey-Rubin.
Here’s a remarkable statistic: according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most American adults spend a whopping 87% of their time indoors. Another 6% is spent riding or idling in cars, leaving only 7% of our days open for outdoor activities. Because we spend so much of our lives indoors, we risk exposure to unhealthy levels of toxic chemicals, mold, mildew, and other types of air pollution, even in our own homes. That’s why Dorn Homes, one of the largest builders of custom homes in Arizona, created The Organic Home™, using specialized building products and techniques that ensure a healthy living environment for adults, kids, and even pets.
Dorn Homes started building custom homes in Arizona in 1971. Sarah Simmerman, Marketing Director, Dorn Homes, recalls the creation and launch of The Organic Home™. “We had been building energy efficient homes for years, so building a healthy home was the logical next step. We saw a way to enhance the lives of our homeowners and decided to include healthy homebuilding techniques at no additional cost. We launched The Organic Home™ in early 2016 and every home built since March has included The Organic Home™ features”.
Many of the products used in constructing new homes can contribute to indoor air pollution and increase exposure to toxic chemicals. For example, paints, adhesives, sealants, cabinets, and particleboard emit volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), including benzene and formaldehyde, which have been linked to acute and chronic illnesses. Formaldehyde is a component of the adhesives used to make furniture, cabinets and other manufactured wood products and is considered to be a ‘Known Human Carcinogen’. Biological contaminants in the home include mold, mildew, pollen, bacteria, viruses, and pet dander.
Exposure to VOCs and biological contaminants in the home can lead to a spectrum of symptoms that are difficult to diagnose. Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is the term used to label the collection of symptoms that appear or intensify when someone is in a specific building or room. Symptoms of SBS include headache, eye or throat irritation, dry cough, runny nose, itchy skin, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and increased sensitivity to odors. Alternatively, Building Related Illness (BRI) is caused by specific airborne contaminants and allergens. Symptoms of BRI include cough, tightness in the chest, fever, chills, and muscle aches. An example of BRI is Legionnaires’ Disease, which is caused by exposure to airborne Legionella bacteria.
The air quality in The Organic Home™ is maintained in a number of ways. Dorn Homes uses non-toxic building materials, including no- or low-VOC paints, adhesives, sealants, flooring and cabinets to reduce air pollution inside the home. Non-toxic, recycled insulation is blown into the walls and ceilings. Dorn Homes also properly vents bath and laundry areas and installs water management systems to protect the home from water damage. This reduces mold and mildew growth within and below the living space.
The risk of exposure to toxic levels of VOCs and biological contaminants increases if a home is energy efficient and tightly sealed, but not adequately ventilated. All Dorn Homes are built with ‘Exclusive Building Science’: construction practices the company developed over many years to provide energy efficiency and comfort in all of their homes. To ensure air quality and safety, The Organic Home™ features a ventilation system that replaces stagnant air throughout the home with filtered, temperature-controlled outdoor air, day and night. As part of the ventilation system, ultra-efficient air filters are installed to pull dust, mold spores, pollen and pet dander out of the home environment.
Maintaining a healthy environment at home is as important to our wellbeing as eating well, engaging in daily physical activity, and getting outside more often! To learn more about The Organic Home™, visit www.dornhomes.com/organichome or talk to a Home Advisor at 928-442-1111. Also, for a peek inside a local Dorn Home kitchen, join Rita Carey Rubin and Sarah Simmerman as they make grilled vegetable crostini and chat about The Organic Home™ together in an episode of Your Healthy Kitchen.