Breathe Easy


Breathe Easy

Many building products contain compounds that have a negative impact on indoor air quality (IAQ) and the Earth’s atmosphere. The most prominent of these compounds – volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – contribute to smog generation and air pollution as well as adversely affect the well-being of building occupants. A VOC is defined by the EPA as “any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions”. There are hundreds of identified VOCs, including toxic substances such as chloroform, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, toluene, xylene and styrene, as well as some essential oil constituents.

Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Read more about VOCs' Impact on Indoor Air Quality and the steps to reduce exposure here:

Most of the adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings and flooring systems in this building comply with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1168, VOC Limits and Rule 1113, Architectural Coatings. The VOC limits for architectural coatings are listed here:

Beginning June 1, 2018, the EPA is regulating formaldehyde emissions in composite wood panels and finished goods containing such composite wood panels that are manufactured or imported into the United States. These products must be certified as compliant with the TSCA Title VI or the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) Phase II emission standards, which are set at identical levels, by a third-party certifier (TPC) approved by CARB and recognized by EPA

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in resins (i.e., glues) used in the manufacture of composite wood products. Formaldehyde exposure can have a negative effect on health both in the short and long term. Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. For more information on formaldehyde, visit:



Crease-resistant, non-iron shirts coated in formaldehyde and urea-formaldehyde was sold on a commercial scale in the 1940’s. In the 1960’s, as formaldehyde’s health dangers were recognized, the US Department of Agriculture, eager to make cotton competitive with synthetic fibers, developed wrinkle-resistant coatings that locked in the formaldehyde molecules so that the wearer breathed less fumes.