Repair in a house or apartment is always a troublesome, important and responsible event. Regardless of the type and area of the premises, the complexity and scale of the repair work, this process requires thorough preparation. First of all, it is important to correctly distribute the family budget and choose the right environmentally friendly building materials. Today, specialized supermarkets offer a wide range of products that allow you to bring any idea to life.
However, there are few environmentally friendly building materials now, and instead of natural-based materials, some buyers choose synthetic counterparts. They are much cheaper than natural ones and even surpass them in their properties. However, not all artificial building materials are equally harmless to the human body. Therefore, there is a risk of spending the saved money on medicines and doctors. We talk about six building materials that pose the greatest health hazard.
Synthetic thermal insulators
Thermal insulation materials such as expanded polystyrene and polyurethane are popular due to their relatively low price, low thermal conductivity and ease of use. However, they are unsafe and can cause an increased concentration of harmful compounds in the air. Under the influence of heat, light, oxygen, ozone, water and other factors, polymeric materials begin to oxidize and decompose. Styrofoam, for example, releases highly toxic styrene even at room temperature. Microdoses of this substance affect the heart, liver, mucous membranes, and women’s health.
Such heat insulators pose an even greater danger when ignited. In some cases, the combustion of polymeric materials produces phosgene, an asphyxiating poisonous substance.
Cheap paints and varnishes
Paint and varnish products are manufactured using various fillers and additives, volatile solvents. Among them are acetone, gasoline, alcohols. Some paints contain mercury compounds, lead, and toxic industrial waste. Getting into the human body through the respiratory tract, skin and digestive tract, they worsen well-being.
Including cause attacks of shortness of breath and bronchial asthma, irritation of the mucous membranes of the eyes and sinuses, dizziness, nausea, loss of coordination of movements. In this case, poisoning can occur not only at the time of applying the paint, but also after it has completely dried.
In addition, many varnishes, paints and enamels are hazardous combustible materials. Most solvents flare up with the same ease, and their vapors tend to explode. When choosing paints and varnishes, it is important to carefully study the composition on the label. Only use products intended for indoor use. It is better to give preference to safer water-based formulations. They use ordinary water as the basis. And when working with paint, do not forget to wear a special respirator and ventilate the room more often.
Linoleum and vinyl wallpaper
The impact of PVC products on health is one of the most discussed topics in construction forums. Polyvinyl chloride is used for the manufacture of plastic windows, linoleum, pipes, siding, skirting boards and other finishing elements. By itself, this material is harmless – the danger is represented by the products of its decomposition.
Including various chemical additives that improve the characteristics of finished products. Upon contact with fire, PVC releases dioxin, cadmium, phenol, phthalates, formaldehyde and other highly toxic substances. They can cause damage to the liver and kidneys, provoke infertility and cancerous tumors.
Fashionable vinyl wallpapers are also made from PVC. They are dense, practical and easily tolerate wet cleaning. However, such wallpapers are not recommended for decorating the kitchen, nursery, bathroom and rooms with poor ventilation. High humidity and the proximity of heat sources will accelerate their destruction and provoke the appearance of caustic fumes.
Even with slight heating, low-quality products begin to soften and release vinyl chloride that is hazardous to health. A pungent smell is the first sign of poor quality of the product. Also, PVC materials do not allow air to pass through, so they should be used sparingly.
Laminate is a popular analogue of expensive parquet flooring and massive boards. It has good performance properties, looks stylish and modern. Often buyers choose it because of the high content of natural sawdust and shavings. However, laminate flooring is not as safe as it seems. In the manufacture of a protective top layer, manufacturers usually use synthetic substances with a low content of phenol, formaldehyde, and toluene. Under normal conditions, this does not threaten health – highly toxic gas is released during combustion.
However, not all laminate flooring is equally safe. Unscrupulous suppliers add formaldehyde in much higher concentrations than usual. As a rule, such a coating has an unpleasant pungent odor and a low price. Before buying a laminate, pay attention to the safety certificate and packaging. Marking with the designation E2 and E3 warns of an increased content of toxic gas. It is impossible to use such material in rooms with a permanent stay of people. And it is better to forget about mounting such lamellas in the underfloor heating system.
Asbestos-cement slate is a common roofing material. However, the asbestos fiber included in its composition is one of the strongest carcinogens. Under the influence of solar radiation, moisture and repeated temperature changes, the compressed fibers break up into tiny particles and form asbestos dust. Getting through the respiratory and digestive systems into the human body, it does not dissolve and is practically not excreted from it. As a result, inflammatory processes and the formation of tumors.
The first 10-15 years from the date of manufacture, this building material does not pose a threat. The danger is precisely the old slate. It doesn’t matter if it lies on the roof, in piles on the ground, is used to backfill dirt roads, or replaces a fence in a summer cottage. You can increase the life of the slate and reduce the harmful effects by applying a layer of special paint. Better yet, replace asbestos-containing components with safer alternative materials. This mineral was completely abandoned in 63 countries, including the European Union.
Granite and fiberglass
Some building materials have radiation properties. For example, silicate brick, fiberglass and phosphogypsum. Often, harmful qualities are attributed to concrete, which is produced with the addition of crushed granite. Natural granite does indeed contain a small amount of radioactive elements. At the same time, it is not so much the stone itself that is dangerous, but the toxic radon gas emitted by it. However, the level of this radiation does not exceed the permissible limits – the rock is tested even in quarries, and then examined in special laboratories.
If the radioactivity indicator is exceeded, the stone will be rejected. To eliminate any risks, when buying granite, one should avoid illegal sellers and manufacturers, check the company’s license and ask for evidence of radiation quality. It is also worth considering that when heated, granite produces stronger radiation and radon begins to be released more intensively. Therefore, if there is any doubt, it is still better to choose a safer material for facing the balcony and laying the fireplace. For example, marble.