There is now a well-established focus in Australia on building environmentally friendly, energy efficient homes.
With increasing energy prices, this focus should continue to gain traction. Architects, designers and specifiers should not only think green, they should consider the health impacts of homes.
This concept is less developed in Australia than some other countries, but with Australia having one of the highest rates of asthma and allergies in the world, and many potential triggers and irritants existing in the home, is a very important issue.
Critical issues in homes are climate control (insulation, heating, cooling, ventilation and humidity), the health impacts of materials (particularly reducing VOC emissions) and providing an environment to minimise allergens and irritants.
Some points to consider are:
- Relative humidity below around 55% will discourage the growth of mould (mould spores are an allergen). Dust mites also thrive in higher humidity.
- Excessively dry air should also be avoided, as viruses prefer cool, dry air (keep it above 30% relative humidity).
- Cold can cause asthma symptoms – a home should be comfortably warm.
- Ventilation can be a cheap and effective method of reducing humidity and mould growth.
- Built-in ventilation or air-conditioning systems should have effective filtration.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) should be avoided where possible. Many products, such as MDF and paint, have low or no VOC options.
- The wrong carpet may harbour allergens (in particular fungus and dust mites), but there are carpets that will resist microbial growth.
- Gardens can be the source of pollen allergens – most of the problems are caused by imported species.
- Natural products are not always best from an asthma and allergy perspective – some natural products produce allergens.
In Australia, more than seven million people have allergies; with the rate of asthma at 10% of the population (around 80% of people with asthma also have allergies).
National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice® program considers and approves products that may be a healthier choice for people with asthma and allergies. Approved building products include insulation, ventilation, plasterboard, windows, MDF and flooring.
Creating a healthy home environment for clients will soon become easier with the launch of the revolutionary hypoallergenic plasterboard, Gyprock Sensitive.
With an estimated 2.3 million Australians living with asthma, and one in three suffering allergies, Gyprock Sensitive will be a welcome addition to any renovated property or new build.
Gyprock Sensitive, a first for the Australian residential market, is a 10mm plasterboard offering enhanced mould resistance and improved moisture resistance. With mould one of the most common triggers for asthma and allergies, Gyprock Sensitive is a superior choice for walls and ceilings throughout your client’s home.
This unique plasterboard is mould resistant due to a powerful but gentle antifungal agent throughout its core, which penetrates the paper and coating. The plasterboard core also contains a unique wax emulsion which makes it resistant to moisture.
A recent study commissioned by Gyprock found that 35% of Australian households surveyed have experienced mould, with the bedroom being the second most affected room in the house, after the bathroom.
Today’s homes are designed and built to be more energy efficient and often use engineered materials. These factors can result in lower ventilation and increased indoor air pollutants, making the modern home a potential incubator for common allergy triggers.
Increased steam and humidity provide perfect conditions for mould and mildew growth, making Gyprock Sensitive an ideal solution for wet areas such as the bathroom and laundry.
Gyprock Sensitive is the first and only residential plasterboard to be approved by the National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice® program as a better choice for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Boasting low volatile organic compounds (VOC) and Good Environmental Choice Australia accreditation, Gyprock Sensitive guarantees the same great quality as with all Gyprock products. Available nationally through Gyprock Trade centres and wherever Gyprock products are sold.
Gyprock EC08™ Complete, for commercial projects, is also a Sensitive Choice approved product.