Cancer-Fighting "Home For Hope" May Actually Cause Cancer


Images credit Home for Hope

The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University and a local builder, Virginia Homes, have built what they claim "may be the first "cancer-fighting" house." They note in a press release:

Between eating right, exercising and avoiding things like tobacco and too much alcohol - it's no secret that how you live can impact your risk of getting cancer. But what about where you live? How much of a role does your home play in your risk of cancer?

So lets look at where the occupants of the House for Hope live, and how. Does this house fight cancer or cause it?

Some of the attributes claimed for the house to make it cancer-fighting are:

1. Air filtration- the house has a jazzy catalytic air purifier from UVAIRx that is used on the International Space Station. It "kill up to 99%of germs in a environment after just 20 minutes of use."

There is no description of a heat recovery ventilator or any explanation of how fresh air is brought into the house.

2. Carpets and insulation are formaldehyde-free. From the University of Ohio press release:

Other healthy features include carpets and insulation that are formaldehyde-free, and throughout the home, wood products and paints were chosen with very low levels of V.O.C., or volatile organic compounds. "We have looked at all the components and all the building products that are used in the home, and we've carefully selected items that are manufactured with less chemicals" said [builder] Ruma.

Except that photograph shows that the joists are engineered, using OSB board as webbing, and the exterior sheathing is OSB, most of which is made with phenol-formaldehyde resin. This house will be outgassing formaldehyde for months, and every time those pot lights in the ceiling are turned on they will make that board toasty and outgas a little bit more, and that fancy air filter won't take it out.

The insulation is Owen-Corning's new Ecotouch, which is their first with a plant-based binder instead of phenol- formaldehyde, and has a higher recycled content. But fiberglass insulation has been called by some the asbestos of the 21st Century and the National Toxicology Program recently declared "Certain Glass Wool Fibers" to be a suspected carcinogen. They dance around the subject of whether home insulation is a problem, but anyone purporting to be designing a house that "fights cancer" wouldn't touch the stuff.

Nor would they install carpeting, formaldehyde free or not; when talking about the bamboo floors, the builder notes that hard surface flooring enhances air quality because it doesn't give allergens or other irritants a place to hide. So why put carpeting in at all?

The whole thing is a mess of strange choices. It has an "Active Radon Removal System" to reduce exposure to radioactivity, and a kitchen full of what appear to be granite counters that may be spewing out radon.

But we have saved the best for last. According to the press release,

Another essential step in cancer prevention is regular exercise. The 400 square foot home gym is located on the second floor next to the bedrooms and over the garage. ..."When you look at that one thing at a time it may not seem like too much, but when you put them all together, there really is such a thing as composing a healthy lifestyle" said [Dr. Steven] Clinton. "All of these together, I think make this a place where any family is going to be able to live a very healthy and productive life."

This house has a walkscore of 11. I have never seen one so low in a developed area. There is not a single place that one can walk to; the kids have to be driven everywhere. A home gym is no substitute for putting people in a house where they are forced to live in a car. We have noted that

The air pollution that results from the millions of cars and trucks that crowd our highways is ugly stuff -- there's no doubt that the particulate matter it's laced with causes respiratory illness, heart disease, cancer, and other devastating health effects.

There is a direct correlation between the rate of obesity and driving, and a direct correlation between lack of fitness and cancer.

I understand that this is a fund-raiser, that it was auctioned off for $400,000 and that proceeds went to The James Cancer Hospital for cancer research and to the Livestrong Foundation. That is all a good thing.

But to claim that it is "a healthy house that could possibly boasts [sic] the lowest risk of cancer possible" as the press release from the James Cancer center does, when it is made from OSB, insulated with fiberglass, and is located in the middle of nowhere, is fundamentally wrong.

Found on Smart Planet.
More on Healthy Houses:
In Green Building, You Can't Separate Energy and Health
Renovation Turns Old House Into Green Healthy House With Near Zero Heating Bills
10 Years Later: The Healthy House

Follow me on Twitter! @lloydalter and friend me on Facebook

Tags: Green Building

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK