Indoor Life Quality and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) are important phrases in today’s lexicon, used by both the design/building industry and the general public. However, many people fail to recognize the importance of a systems approach and green building design in improving Indoor Life Quality and IAQ. Certainly, plastic can play a significant role in helping to create a healthy living environment.

Indoor allergen agents—from dust mites and cockroaches to fungi, mold, dander, hair, saliva, viruses, bacteria, spores, secondhand tobacco smoke, pesticides and other materials—contribute to poor IAQ, but these allergens can be addressed with a variety of plastic products. For example, it is generally recognized that proper building ventilation is an extremely important influence on improving IAQ.

Water vapor also is a major contributor to IAQ as moisture build-up can cause deterioration of building materials, structural damage, and can help create an environment for bugs, mold, and rot. If used appropriately, plastic can be an effective and continuous air and vapor retarder to keep the water vapor entering the home envelope to a minimum. A combination of effective air and vapor barriers allows the ventilation system to work efficiently and provides a means to control the condition of the air entering and exiting a home. Solid vinyl or vinyl-clad window frames can be another part of the solution. They not only reduce heat loss, but also minimize condensation. Since vinyl window frames transfer heat more slowly than some alternative window frames—boasting a U-value range of 0.3-0.5 versus 1.0-2.2 for some competing materials—utility costs can also be kept low.

Plastics provide solutions in the form of vinyl wall coverings, as well as film under foundations that channel radon into the plastic vent pipe. Plastic materials also are used in the construction of a variety of household appliances insulated with plastic foams. These products, some of which carry the Energy Star label, coupled with strong building science, can help save significant energy costs.

Indoor Life Quality & Indoor Air Quality Resources

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Resilient Vinyl Flooring

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Housewrap Quick Facts

Plastics’ energy and greenhouse gas savings using housewrap applied to the exterior of single family residential housing.

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Saving Energy Through High Performance Buildings

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Preserving and Protecting Cleveland’s Theater District Finds Success with Spray-foam Insulation

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