Perkins+Will have released a white paper that recommends avoiding including antimicrobial products in buildings. “Antimicrobial building products marketed as ‘healthy’ or beneficial to human health contain ingredients that may have adverse environmental or human health impacts, and alternative products should be considered whenever possible,” it states.
According to their research, antimicrobial products such as paints, door handles, flooring and kitchen countertops could enable the proliferation of so-called 'super bugs', or antibiotic-resistance microbes. They could also contaminate aquatic ecosystems and sometimes include suspected carcinogens such as formaldehyde. Their research echoes the position of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
From 1994 to 2014 the amount of antimicrobial consumer products in the market has sky-rocketed. Sometimes manufacturers add antimicrobial ingredients to serve as preservatives, while still marketing the product as ‘healthy’.
“What consumers don’t realize is that the federal government considers antimicrobials pesticides because they are agents used to kill or control living organisms—and they should therefore be used with great care,” states Suzanne Drake, a senior interior designer at Perkins+Will and co-author of the white paper.
“Because we caution against using building products containing ingredients suspected of hazardous health impacts, we should avoid products containing antimicrobial ingredients,” she continues. “That includes building products intended for healthcare settings.”
Many norms of contemporary living that are oriented towards creating healthier and safer environments actually end up causing more harm than good. Find out more about this ‘autoimmune disorder’ of dwelling here.
Read the full white paper here.