Menu
Cart 0

Health & Green Glossary

CERTIFICATIONS TO KNOW:
Energy Star-energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Department of Energy for appliances, heat and cooling systems, lighting, doors, windows,roof products. www.energystar.gov
Forest Stewardship Council – sets standards for responsible forest management and certifies specific wood products from specified forests, insulation, wall coverings. Www.fsc.org
Greenguard Indoor Air Quality – approves products with low-VOC emissions such as adhesives, coatings, appliances, flooring. Www.greenguard.org
Green Seal – another program that maintains standards for green products such as paints, cleaners, fuels, paper, and coatings www.greenseal.org
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) -  program created by the US Green Building Council to rate buildings, including homes, in categories such as water conservation,energy, materials, and indoor air quality. Awarded points in each category determine the level of certification from  certified, silver, gold, to platinum as the highest. Specific products do not earn points, they apply to a building as a whole. Products only help projects qualify. Www.usgbc.org
Scientific Certification Program (SCS)- identifies and certifies environmentally preferred products such as adhesives, sealants, cabinetry,carpet, doors, flooring, and paints. Wwwscscertified.com
Cradle To Cradle (C2C) - sets standard for environmentally intelligent design, examining the whole life cycle of environmentally safe and healthy materials. Www.c2CCertified.com
Shades of Green –Livingreen Consumer-friendly product evaluation program, helping customers decide how green and healthy products are and how green they want to be.
EPD's – or Environmental Product Declarations. They take the information compiled in product lifecycle assessments and focus on the environmental impact of the product
Transparency Summary Documents – a single page which highlights impact category data for any given product along with other key information like material contents and performance based certifications
 
TRACI Methodology – The US EPA developed TRACI, the tool for reduction and assessment of Chemical and other environmental impacts TRACI helps determine more regional driven information within the United States that may pertain to environmental impact of a given product
 
GENERAL TERMS:
Non-Toxic- made from safe materials, natural or synthetic,that do not cause harmful off gassing or hazardous impact on people or the environment
Recycled Content – products or materials that contain a high percentage of materials that used to be something else
Recyclable – products or materials that can be made into something else once disposed of.
Biodegradable – products or materials that can naturally be fed back into the earth while they decompose
Locally Harvested  - products or materials that did not travel more than 500 miles to reach you
Durable – built to last, does not require ongoing maintenance
Low Embodied Energy – doesn't require large amounts of energy to manufacture, gather, or transport, low impact and non-polluting
Natural – grown or collected from natural resources
HAZARDOUS  CHEMICALS
there is a complete list of health hazard chemicals on the website for the State of California EPA, updated February 2012. But here are some key names you might want to learn - they are often found in everyday products or in building and finish materials.  I listed them by either cancer-causing, developmental or reproductive hazards. There are so many, I only listed the names you might recognize from labels:
 
Cancer-causing:
Alcohol, when associated with abuse
Analgesic mixtures containing phenacetin
Antimony oxide, Antimony Trioxide
Arsenic (inorganic arsenic compounds, inorganic oxides)
Asbestos
Azobenzene
Benzene
Benzyl Chloride
Benzidene-based Dyes
Benzo-trichloride
Beryllium
Bitumens, extracted of steam-refined and air-refined
Bromate
Cadmium and Cadmium compounds
Carbon Black – unbound particles of airborne size
Chlorinated Paraffins
Chloroform
Chromium (hexavalent compounds)
Cobalt metal powder, oxide or sulfate
Conjugated estrogens
Creosotes
Cyclophosohamide – anhydrous and hydrated
Orange #17
Red#8,9,19
Diesel Engine Exhaust
Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
Diethyl Sulfate
Diethyl Benzidine
Diethylvinylchloride
Estrogen-progestogen (combined)
Ethyl Acrylate
EthylBenzene
Ethylene Dibromide
Formaldehyde
Gallium Arsenide
Gasoline Engine Exhaust
Glass Wool Fibers - (fiberglass)
Herbal remedies containing plant species of genus Aristolochia
Hexachlorobenxene
Isobutyl nitrite
Isoprene
lead and lead compounds
Leather dust
Napthalene
Nickel and nickel compounds
Oil orange SS
Phenobarbitol
Potassium bromate
Progesterone
Propylene Glycol mon-t-butyl ether
Quinoline and its strong acid salts
Residual Heavy Fuel oils
Chinese-style salted fish
Selenium sulfide
Shale oils
Silica - crystalline
Untreated soots, tars, mineral oils
Styrene Oxide
Tamoxifen and its salts
Titanium Dioxide
Tobacco
Toluene
Unleaded Gasoline
Urethane
Vinyl Chloride
Vinyl Bromide
Vinyl Trichloride
Wood Dust
Developmental, Reproductive:
Anabolic Steroids
Barbituates
Cocaine
Codeine Phospate
Conjugated estrogens
Cyanazine
Doxycycline
Environmental Tobacco Smoke
Ethyl Alcohol
Ethylene Glycol
Flutamide
Iodine 131
Lead
Lithium carbonate or citrate
Lorazepam
Mercury and mercury compounds
Methotrexate
Methyl bromide
Methyl chloride
Nicotene
Nitrous oxide
Retinol/retynyl esters
Sulfur Dioxide
Tetracycline
Thalidomide
Toluene
Warfarin
BEDDING TERMS
Anti-microbial fiber and foam – components that inhibit the growth of microbial contaminates. These can be additives or inherent in the materials
 
Baffle Box Construction – in comforters or mattress toppers, baffle box refers to the way the pieces are stitched -  'boxes' are created by assembling squares and side panels to create  a series of box-like structures that hold the stuffing – foam, down, wool, or cotton. This way the material stayes more evenly distributed throughout the top
 
Batting – cotton, wool, or synthetic fiber is wadded into rolls or sheets to stuff furniture, mattresses, comforters, or bedding structural pieces.
 
Crimp  - the waviness of a single fiber measured per inch. Crimp impacts the softness/firmness, loft and support of the fiber. More crimps per inch makes the fiber feel firmer, fewer makes it feel softer
 
Down – is the soft undercoating of waterfowl – ducks, geese for example. There are controversies these days on using down because of the practices used to raise the birds to produce down, but it is definitely a natural product. Lightweight and an efficient insulator.
 
Down Alternative – tends to be synthetic filling that provides the same insulating or warming properties as down.
 
Damask – woven ticking produced on a loom. The design is woven into the fabric rather than printed onto it.
 
Denier – a measurement used in the filling of pillows a common denier range for pillows is 6-10 denier. Lower numbers are finer or smaller sizes, higher is coarser.
 
Density -  a term used to discuss foam that is a measure of weight per cubic volume, in pounds per cubic foot.
 
Hand – describes the touch or feel of the fabrics – I.e. Soft hand, smooth hand, springy hand – on a finished mattress surface
 
Latex -  a flexible foam created from a water dispersion of rubber obtained from the rubber tree or from a man-made product
 
Loft – refers to the fluffiness of a product. For example when a comforter or down pillow gets flattened, its loft can be restored with plumping or shaking
 
Memory Foam – a polyurethane foam with open cells, meaning that air can pass into and out of tiny holes in the material. Higher density memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold to a warm body in a matter of minutes. Lower density memory foam is pressure sensitive and moulds quickly to the shape of a body pressing against it, and then returning to its original shape once the body pressure is removed. In the case of the Back Support products, the memory foam is made from up to 48% vegetable oil. The standard polyurethane (petroleum based) is vacuum suctioned to remove chemicals and make the foam healthier.
 
Microfiber – extremely fine synthetic filament used to produce very lightweight soft fabrics.
 
Thread Count – total number of threads running in both directions per square inch in a woven fabric – like in sheets. The higher the number the tighter and finer the weave – the smoother it feels.
 
Visco – Elastic Foam – also known as memory foam the foams conform to the body and distribute pressure according to the body heat and dynamics
 
MORE GENERAL TERMS….
 
•Bioaccumulation -  if an organism (or an animal or a human) takes on a chemical at a faster rate than it can eliminate it, the chemical will accumulate in the organism (or body of the animal or human). As an example PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls) can be found in heat-exchange fluids, paint additives, carbonless copy paper, sealants and plastics. The more we use these and work around them where they off-gas, the more PCB's bioaccumulate in the body.
 
•MDF – Medium Density Fiberboard, a source of formaldehyde emissions (formaldehyde off-gassing) as well as fiberboard and certain interior grades of plywood and wood paneling. MDF is used regularly as the core material in veneer paneling, shelving, furniture,and cabinetry
 
•MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a debilitating syndrome that occurs in people due to low-level chemical exposures. Can cause a wide range of respiratory, neurological, muscular, and other symptoms. Causes and even the existence of the syndrome remains controversial, but we come into many people in our business who suffer from the symptomatic exacerbations (or flare-ups), and a lot of what we sell is there to help ease their symptoms and stresses.
 
•Off-gassing – occurs when gaseous pollutants are releasing from products into the environment. The issue is when the gases are VOC's (or Volatile Organic Compounds) found in many paints, plastics, cleaning products, PVC flooring (vinyl flooring), carpeting, particleboard, and other household materials
 
•BFR's – Brominated Flame retardants, synthetic chemicals that are added to many products (furniture, carpeting, bedding, children's clothing, electrical appliances) as a treatment or coating so that in the event of a fire, these things will burn more slowly. The problem is they are also bioaccumulative and toxic and disrupt our health and the environment.
 
•Phthalates (ph is silent, say 'thalate') , are produced in high volume in manufacturing, and are mainly used as plasticizers to make plastic products more flexible and less brittle. They show up in many kitchen and toy and baby-related plastic products. They are also used in cosmetics to give them that 'super-smooth' feel. Not all phthalates are toxic, box some are quite dangerous and considered endocrine or hormone disruptors. Product manufacturers are not required to list the phthalates in their products. They are also one of the biggest industrial pollutants in the world.
 
 
Good Ideas For You and Your Family:
Ventilate the home and other indoor environments as often as possible
Dust and Vacuum regularly
Avoid soft plastics
Avoid synthetic fragrances
Choose organic, fragrance free and petrochemical free products when possible
Avoid clothes that need dry-cleaning
Choose natural flooring materials when possible
Avoid products with BFR's
Avoid non-stick cookware
Avoid stain repellents
Avoid easy-iron clothing and bedding
Avoid fungicide-treated socks, shoes, and other clothing
Avoid plastic food boxes
Don't microwave in plastic
Read labels to watch for toxic chemicals
Choose fresh foods and herbal remedies when you can
Help spread the word with friends – save lives and help build business!
 
MORE GREEN TERMS & DEFINITIONS:
 
LOW-FLOW EFFICIENCY TOILETS – these fixtures meet EPA’s ‘WaterSense’ specifications for efficiency and performance – an efficient flush volume of 1.28 gallons or 20% less than federal standard and solid waste removal of 350 grams or greater. These fixtures combine high efficiency with high performance

HIGH PERFORMANCE APPLIANCES – these appliances are energy star efficient and have a water factor no greater than 6 – this measures water efficiency or capacity, the lower the factor the more efficient. High performance washing machines use 55% less water than standard models and 31% Less energy to run the washer and heat the water.

ENGINEERED PLUMBING SYSTEMS – these are more efficient plumbing system designs that use less energy and water to heat and run appliances – options might be centrally located water heaters to demand-controlled hot water recirculation pumps, to hot water on demand wall heaters. The idea is reduce wait time to heat the water which reduces both energy and water waste.

LOW-FLOW FAUCETS AND SHOWERHEADS – same principles applied to shower and water filters in order to reduce amount of water used at any given time. new designs allow for continued pressure or a sensation of strong water flow but using less water.

PAINT TEST- SCRUB AND HIDE – paint companies talk about the performance characteristics of paint in terms of scrubbability and ‘hiding’ ability, or ability to hide stains and wood rings and knots etc.

VOC – means Volatile Organic Compounds

LOW-E Windows  - the E stands for Emissivity and means energy efficient. These windows have a thin metal coating that you cannot see from the inside that allows light in but reduces heat gain. These windows add to energy efficiency in both heating and cooling seasons

LOW-VOC CARPETS – these are products that integrate the least amount of off-gassing material in their manufacture – this includes the materials making the loop pile, the backing, the adhesive, tacking strips, and any surface treatments. They also suggest or prohibit the use of urea formaldehyde wood products underneath the carpeting, as this can off-gas through the porous materials. If carpeting is over 70% of the flooring surface of the home, it is recommended to use a central air vacuum system or powerful draw vacuum.

SOURCE REDUCTION – any change to a product that reduces harmful environmental impact or toxicity

RECYCLED VS. RECYCLABLE – there is a huge difference and this is sometimes a ruse in greenwashing by manufacturers. We look for RECYCLED content of the material – i.e. It is already being used again. RECYCLABLE means, yes, you can recycle this product but it has been generated from new material unless it states specifically that it is made from recycled content. If something is both RECYCLED and RECYCLABLE, that’s even better.

LOOK FOR MORE INFORMATION when labels say ‘natural’ and bio-based’ - there are many volatile natural ingredients that can cause allergic reactions and toxicity – soy and arsenic are both natural and bio-based.

FORMALDEHYDE – Urea is the most dangerous and carcinogenic, melamine and phenolic are considered more acceptable in building materials, but they are all three types of formaldehyde


MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheets

Antimony – a rising concern for many because of the use of PET plastics in other products. It is a metal found in the earth’s crust that is often combined with lead to increase hardness and strength in a material. When combined with oxygen it creates Antimony Trioxide – a compound used as a flame retardant and catalyst to make PET (polyethylene terephthalate) used in making plastic water bottles.