When building the house, Ruma also chose the materials carefully, including using formaldehyde-free insulation.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde is widely used in the manufacture of building materials such as pressed wood products. Formaldehyde is on the EPA's list of known carcinogens. Research has shown the chemical causes cancer in animals and "may cause cancer in humans," the EPA warns.
In the 1970s, many homeowners used foam insulation in their wall cavities that contained formaldehyde, and shortly after installation, the homes were found to have higher than normal concentrations of the chemical in the air, according to the EPA.
However, few homes use that sort of insulation today, and even in older homes, formaldehyde emissions fall over time and the old insulation is not likely to be a problem today, according to the EPA.
Other features: an indoor air filter that uses technology used in intensive care units of hospitals; paint and stain that's low in volatile organic compounds, some of which the EPA also lists as known or suspected carcinogens; and other "green" building materials that are free of potentially harmful chemicals or other toxins.
No one is suggesting that if you paint your house you're going to get cancer, Clinton said. "It's unclear how much it would take to cause cancer, or what combinations of chemicals would cause it, what kind of cancer you'd get, and what the other susceptibilities are," Clinton said. "But the general principle of minimizing your exposure is one we can all adhere to."
Ruma broke ground last December and put the finishing touches on the house in May. The house was auctioned off June 25 and sold for $400,000. Nearly $70,000 in profits went to the James Ca
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