My wife is extremely sensitive to smells and sounds due to an extended illness that has left her nervous system raw. So when we decided to update the boys’ bath, we knew it would be important to not build-in any chemicals and nasty fumes. My understanding of how challenging this would go up several notches when I was putting down some painter’s tape, you know the blue stuff that isn’t too sticky, and I had gotten down 3′ of it when my wife smelled it, from thirty feet away, and she was suddenly extremely flushed and in physical distress. I threw it outside and she was OK in time, but the concept of bringing in chemicals and making them part of our house became vividly scary.

She has researched everything that comes into the new space…from the tile adhesive to the cabinet plywood, the paint and caulks…even the drywall compound, which turns out to have some nasty stuff. And we want all the products to be as green as possible so that we are not adding any chemicals to the environment in the future, as well as to our space now. No, or low VOC is just the beginning, and there are paints and glues and sealants that are getting better at not off-gassing and are not hard to find these days. It is the cabinet maker that uses formaldehyde-free plywood, FSC certified wood, and no VOC glues, that you can’t get at Home Depot.

The green solutions aren’t all perfect, as we found out with the chemical-free drywall compound making it harder to do drywall patching, and getting rubber gaskets to replace the PVC plumbing fittings…, and, there is a green and odor/chemical freeway that isn’t costly, to make your sensitive people, safe space happen.


More on finding those safe products, later.