Sunday, October 24, 2010

Green Roofs and Living Walls - Defense Against Cancer and Other Diseases!

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals created by industrial pollution and automobile engines among other processes.  VOCs are the primary cause of Urban Smog.  They are also responsible for the formation of cancers, respiratory problems and other serious health issues.

According to the EPA, the Health Effects of VOCs include:

Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.

The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans. 

For more health information on VOCs from the EPA click here. 

According to a new study - one confirming what we already know - plants -  - clean these harmful VOCs out of the air.   Read about the study in a National Science Foundation Article here.

This study makes it clear that it is especially important to have as many plants inside your building or home as the levels of VOCs inside a structure can be up to ten times the ambient levels outside.

As we are bombarded with pollutants each day, in our water and in the air - installing interior living walls, exterior vertical green - green roofs and living walls, Urban Permaculture - City Gardens, wildflowers and trees - can pay off with significant benefits.

Ultimately, we may live longer.  Ultimately, we may beat the odds with cancer or respiratory diseases.

Restoring Volumetric Green to the Urban Core is critical.  Today, go out and plant a plant.  Bring another inside.  Hang plants from your patio walls and your kitchen window.  Keep plants in your home.  Install a green roof.

Green roofs and living walls - cleaning stormwater, creating habitat, providing a sense of place and beauty and - importantly - fighting disease by removing pollutants!

Surround yourself with plants today.  You may breath better and live longer.

We will be glad to help you with your next living wall or green roof design project!

Email us here!

Happy Green Roofing...




Richard said...

Climate change is the hot seat issue today and this triggers the awareness of people around the world. People learn to recycle and use materials which are eco-friendly and convenient to use.

Our roof serves as the protector of our house from sun's UV rays. There many types of roof today and luckily there are roofs which are eco-friendly. Since roof has many variety, we get confused which of those fit our needs and lifestyle. To avoid confusion in choosing roofs for your home, it is better to ask your trusted contractor from reputable roofing company (in Miami, for example). There are many good roofing companies (in Miami) to choose from.

Kevin Songer, J.D. said...

Richard is correct about choosing a quality roofer with a solid reputation.

Today I see so many landscapers - and I am not coming down on landscapers - but I see many landscapers trying to put plants on roofs. The fertilizer and water is added in an attempt to keep the plants alive.

This is worse than an engineer or roofer who knows nothing about plants - trying to put plants on a roof.

Stick with the experts.

A green roof company should offer the materials or expertise to assist you in selecting the right plant for your roof and the right green roofing system for your roof.

A roofing company should be hired to do the install - its the law here in Florida.

Expecting a green roof supplier (unless they are a certified roofer too) to install the green roof is incorrect strategy.

Even those very large roofing companies with a green roof department should be carefully scrutinized. Many times a large roofing company will open a green roof department however not allow the staff time to fully develop the understanding of plants, roof systems, irrigation, rules and regulations, etc... And you end up with a nice roof but a not so nice green roof.

So - do as Richard suggests. make sure you consult a good roofer first. Roofs are front line protection of your structure.

Then find a green roof company who understands green roofs in your area.

Make sure your plants do not come from the home improvement store or the local nursery unless the plants are grown specifically for green roofs.

Make sure your green roof soil does not contain Southern Blight or other fungi.

Good Comment Richard!

Richard said...

Hi Kevin! Thanks for appreciating my comment and keep up the good work.