Ahh, that new car smell. You know it's just the plastics and foam and carpet off-gassing putrid chemicals that make it smell that way, right? You didn't? Oh. Sorry.
Same goes for almost any traditional construction material, which often has formaldehyde or PVC or some other questionable chemical content. So just swap those out for better building materials, right? Good luck. "The problem is," said Messervy, "that not all manufacturers are disclosing what chemicals are contained in the products." The Healthy Hospitals Initiative is working on the problem, but a little push from savvy consumers wouldn't hurt, if you get the drift. Nudge, nudge.
And sometimes, there's no alternative to the bad stuff, like lead. "You're going to need lead-lined walls for certain areas where you're using radiological equipment," Brown pointed out. "But there are lots of opportunities with what's available now. We can get furniture without formaldehyde. We can use low-VOC paints."