Home Improvement
Doing A Home Improvement Project? 6 Must-Read Thoughts From Our Expert Advisors

Doing A Home Improvement Project? 6 Must-Read Thoughts From Our Expert Advisors

January 17, 2023


We reached out to our Healthy Child Healthy World expert advisors and friends to share their DIY home improvement wisdom with us for our new e-book, Easy Steps to Healthy Home Improvement.

Here’s what our experts had to say:

1. “It is the occupation of a child to touch, taste, and feel their home and their environments—children literally embody their environment. That environment must be safe and healthy.”   -Richard J Jackson MD MPH Hon. AIA Hon. ASLA, Professor/Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health


2. “In 2004, I was almost nine months pregnant with my first child and living in a newly refurbished apartment (the construction of which I had supervised) when someone informed me that my brand new home might be toxic. That was a shocking moment! As a first time mother, I began to question the health impacts of the materials that surrounded me in my home. My first Google search was scary—revealing that the EPA estimates our indoor environments can be up to 5 times more toxic than outdoors. I was disturbed to learn how many potentially dangerous chemicals were embedded in traditional building products, chemicals such as “formaldehyde” in insulation and wood and “VOCs” in paint finishes. Scarier still was when I learned that in the U.S., chemicals do not have to be proven safe for human health before being released into the marketplace. I believed there needed to be a destination where people-especially builders-could learn about and get healthier building materials. I couldn’t find that place so I founded Green Depot, a one stop shop for green living and building. My experience has taught me how important it is to ask questions, get involved, and support innovation. That process can start at home.”
-Sarah Beatty, LEED AP, WMBE, president and founder, Green Depot


3. “A green and healthy home supports the well-being of your whole family, and has eight simple elements. It is dry, clean, safe, well-ventilated, pest-free, contaminant-free, well maintained, and energy efficient. While you’re planning a remodeling project, it’s a great time to inspect: does your home have the 8 Elements? If not, make arrangements to include the necessary repairs in your remodel effort. You’ll help reduce energy consumption and create a living space for your family that is free of home health and safety hazards. More information on the 8 Elements can be found at www.greenandhealthyhomes.org.”
-Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of Green & Healthy Homes Initiative®


4. “Homeowners tend not to follow protocol at all. They don’t know to. If it’s a homeowner occupied house, states absolve you of having to comply with their regulations. It doesn’t get you out of complying with disposal regulations that a state might have. You might get caught when you take construction debris to the dump. They might say, that’s asbestos. Weekend warriors should also be wary about disturbing things with fiberglass insulation in them. These days we recognize fiberglass as an animal carcinogen. Be as cautious as possible not to disturb it and get it all over the place. Don’t panic; it’s not like asbestos. So far all studies of humans don’t link it to cancer, but don’t disturb it.”
-Edward Olmsted, certified industrial hygienist and president of Olmsted Environmental Services, Inc., speaker, teacher, and government consultant  


5. “There are two key elements to ensuring a healthy home for your children and loved ones. First, ensure that the cleaning products that you use on a daily basis have third-party certified environmental performance. Second, look for independent labeling for your furnishings, carpets, and paints. If you are planning any renovations make sure to look for independent third-party environmental certification of the materials and products you bring into your home.”
-Robert Watson, LEED Fellow, CEO & Chief Scientist, ECON Group


6. “When creating a green home, I was surprised to learn that materials considered eco-friendly aren’t always people friendly. I wanted to use these wonderful railroad ties, but found out they are often treated with creosote, a possible carcinogen. It’s amazing how many people reuse things that aren’t actually safe.  Take old claw foot tubs and tires, they’re not good for growing food-unless you want lead to be part of your dinner. Although cute, healthy trumps aesthetics when it comes to a healthy home for kids!”
-Kelly Rutherford, actress and Healthy Child Healthy World ambassador


Want to learn more? Read our Easy Steps to Healthy Home Improvement e-book by clicking here or visiting this link: https://www.healthychild.org/healthyhomeebook/.