Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Lynne Trulio


Consumer Knowledge, Human Health, Indoor Toxins, Interior Design, Purchasing Behavior, VOCs

Subject Areas

Environmental Health; Design; Environmental education


Interior décor is an ever-present part of people's daily lives. The furnishings and finishes with which people surround themselves are part of their personal expression, but these components in people's homes and work spaces can negatively affect their health. Products such as furniture and paints can contain harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) so toxic they are pollutants regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. With the rise in the "green" movement, healthy and environmentally safe alternatives such as low or zero-VOC paints are becoming more available. This study assessed how aware consumers and design professionals are of environmentally safe products, especially paints low in toxic VOCs. A survey was administered to 160 randomly chosen consumers at four Kelly-Moore retail paint stores in San Jose, California, to determine public awareness of and willingness to purchase low-VOC paints. In addition, 27 design professionals from interior design and architecture firms in San Jose were surveyed to assess their knowledge of and willingness to recommend healthy and environmentally safe products to their clients. The findings of this study provide insight into the factors that promote or hinder the use of healthy home furnishing products by the public and design professionals as well as provide suggestions for promoting the purchase of "green" products.