Many home buyers are needlessly exposed to indoor air that is five to 10 times more polluted than the air outside. The Bloomington, Ind.-based Healthy House Institute (HHI) wants to do something about it.

The HHI says that, unlike older, loosely built homes, today's tighter homes trap air rather than ventilate it. Building products that off-gas into the home only aggravate the problem. But, like all problems, poor indoor air quality has a solution: healthy building products that promote clean air.

One good way to circulate clean air in the home is through ventilation goods, such as GuardianPlus from Hartford, Wis.-based Broan-NuTone or the Healthy Bathroom System from Novi, Mich.-based Evolve Corp.

GuardianPlus indoor air quality systems use a high-efficiency particulate air filter to introduce fresh air from outside while expelling stale air from inside. A variety of models are available including units that offer energy and heat recovery. The Evolve System concentrates on the bath, a primary area for mold and mildew. It includes three components: Fresh Vent toilet bowl and bacteria evacuation system; Clear Vent bathroom steam evacuation; and SureFlush automatic flush system.

You also can promote clean air with odorless paints and stains. These products cost about the same as regular offerings but do not contain volatile organic compounds. One manufacturer with an extensive line is Santa Fe, N.M.-based Bioshield, which offers non-toxic paints, wood finishes, and natural cleaners.

The bottom line is that a tight building envelope is important, but it also helps to have an adequate exchange of air, insulation that doesn't contain formaldehyde, and adhesives with non-toxic ingredients. An examination of the entire building process, from design to construction, will help buyers breathe easier.

Courtesy Grove

Eco challenge: Grove works like nature. Just as trees absorb minerals and transform them into wood tones, Grove infuses wood fibers with purified mineral compounds then oxidizes them into permanent natural colors. The product cleans up with soap and water, does not contain benzene, toluene, or volatile organic compounds, and uses a two-part, two-step process. Grove. 866-301-9663.

Courtesy Beam Industries

Suck up: Every component of the Serenity Plus Central Vacuum System is designed to contribute to healthier indoor air quality, the manufacturer says. It has a self-cleaning CleanStream Filtration system that assures maximum airflow throughout the cleaning process and a Secure Seal System twist-lock collection receptacle that ensures the tightest possible seal between the motor and the dust collection component, the manufacturer says. Beam Industries. 515-832-4620.

Bath works: Because the bathroom provides a perfect environment for mold, mildew, bacteria, and germs, the Evolve System concentrates on removing the source of these problems through ventilation and evacuation. It consists of a Fresh Vent toilet bowl and bacteria evacuation system, a Clear Vent bathroom steam evacuation system, and a SureFlush automatic flush system. Evolve Corp. 866-386-5834.

Courtesy BioShield Paint

Resin d'etre: Resin & Oil stain finish is made from raw materials such as citrus peel extracts, seed oils, inert material fillers, tree and bee waxes, and lead-free dryers and natural pigments. The result is an elastic, water-resistant satin finish product that preserves and finishes wood and has excellent weathering capabilities, the company says. BioShield Paint. 505-438-3448.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley-Wood's interactive product catalog.