How wise choices can help enhance the indoor air quality?

31 Oct 2019

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action: Paint is a source of indoor pollution, and it has a considerable bearing on one’s health and wellbeing. So, if you're getting a paint job done, switch to eco-friendly paints that are available in a variety of attractive colours, are durable, and provide long-lasting coverage.

According to the World Health Organization estimates, every year 4.3 million people die around the globe due to the indoor air pollution. Studies claim that the quality of indoor air can be two to five times (and even up to 100 times) more polluted than the outside air owing to the accumulation of smoke, carbon dioxide or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from housekeeping products, paint and adhesives.[1] And it may come as a surprise to many, but the interior paint is also a source of indoor pollution, and it alone can make the indoor air at least three times more polluted than the outdoor air. It is because most paints contain chemicals and toxic ingredients that are used to enhance the product’s shelf life, colour, texture and other properties, but also emit harmful compounds.

Paints are usually composed of pigment (colour), binder (which holds the paint together) and carrier (which aids in the dispersion of the binder). These components are made using toxic chemicals such as petrochemicals, solvents, benzene, formaldehyde and other VOCs and heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, chromium, etc. VOCs are organic (carbon based) chemical compounds, which easily get airborne, and are major contributor to the climate change as well as are associated with multiple health hazards such as respiratory diseases, asthma, dizziness, headaches, skin disorders, eye irritation, etc. Most of these products used in interiors emit VOCs even after several years of application, and that is a real cause of concern.

With the rampant momentum gained by the green building movement across the country, opportunity and demand for various building materials, technologies, products used in the interior applications, besides others has amplified significantly. These not only contribute in enhancing the design and aesthetics but also elevate the sustainability quotient of the building, if chosen wisely. Factors such as resource efficiency, occupant health and comfort and improved indoor air quality are pivotal for the building occupants.

Rising apprehensions about the emissions and heavy metals have led to the formulation of stringent environmental regulations encouraging conventional paint, adhesive and sealant manufacturers to reduce them significantly. With the regards to the same, government agencies in India, have now established standards confining the lead content to 90 ppm (for paints to be called lead free) and encourage the usage of Low/Zero VOC emitting compounds/products.

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In recent times, the market for green building products has increased manifold. On the one hand, this has helped in increasing the availability of green products for the buyers. On the other, the ever-increasing range of products has made the building professionals uncertain about their sustainability quotient. An online GRIHA Product Catalogue tool was developed in 2012 to provide green building practitioners and clients with all necessary information on green building products, which can be used in order to make buildings GRIHA compliant.

GRIHA Product Catalogue[2] classifies products in more than 25 different typologies based on their applicability, composition, environmental features and many more. Amongst these, products like ‘paints, adhesives and sealants’ play a crucial role concerning the indoor air quality. Indoor air quality refers to the quality of air within buildings, especially concerning the health and comfort of building occupants. Exposure to pollutants has shown to aggravate or bring about the onset of a wide variety of health issues.

There are around eight companies empanelled with GRIHA Product Catalogue namely Akzo Nobel India Ltd., Asian Paints Ltd., British Paints, Kamdhenu Limited, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd., Luxture Surface Coatings Pvt. Ltd., Shalimar Paints Ltd., JSW Paint Private Limited which account for more than 70 products under this typology. These products are lead-free and have low VOC content in them. Further, the companies enjoy multiple benefits linked with GRIHA Product Catalogue such as:

  • The product gets an edge in many government tenders
  • GRIHA logo can be used to promote the eco-friendly empanelled products
  • It eases the documentation process for attaining points under various criteria of GRIHA rating variants

Apart from this, GRIHA Council is actively engaged in spreading awareness amongst masses about the concerns related to deteriorating indoor air quality and its impacts on occupants. Various training programmes, workshop, and discussions are organized across the nation to sensitise various stakeholders. In the Summit hosted by GRIHA Council every year, deliberations are made around various themes pertaining to sustainability, especially indoor air quality and its related solutions. In our upcoming rating variants GRIHA Version 2019, indoor air quality has been kept as a mandatory clause to push the green building practitioners and clients to demand building materials, technologies, environment-friendly products.

But with only a handful of products being empanelled under this category, there is undoubtedly a long way to go!

References:

[1] https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality
[2] To register your product https://www.grihaindia.org/register-product and to view GRIHA Product Catalogue https://www.grihaindia.org/products-catalogue

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