Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

OVERVIEW

There are tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals used in our building products, so how do you know which ones are hazardous?

These articles look at some of the most-toxic chemicals, why they are hazardous, which product groups contain them, and alternatives to using them.

You’ll learn about:

  • the burgeoning green chemistry movement

  • tools like Health Product Declarations that tell us what’s in products

  • formaldehyde

  • polyvinyl chloride

  • bisphenol-A

  • flame retardants

  • perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)

We also offer guidance on design decisions that can reduce or eliminate the need for many of these problematic compounds.

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  • How Six Affordable Housing Projects Got to Green

    Feature Short

    Stories of designers and developers who overcame the challenges of building affordable housing that is also green, sustainable, and healthy.

  • The Questionable Science Behind VOC Emissions Testing

    Feature Short

    We need the protection that product VOC testing provides, but it’s far from the last word on human health in buildings.

  • VOCs in LEED and Other Rating Systems

    Feature Short

    Most building certifications encourage low-emitting and low-VOC products, but they all do it differently. Here’s how it all fits together.

  • How to Get from VOC Certifications to Better Products

    Feature Short

    The FDA regulates flies in our soup, but no one regulates VOCs in our indoor air. Somehow that’s a designer’s job to figure out. 

  • Why “Zero VOC” Was Never Enough

    Feature Short

    We used to look for coatings, adhesives, and sealants that contained no VOCs. Great for smog prevention, but IAQ and installer health are also important.

  • In Search of High-Quality Hazard Data: HPDs Have Promise, but Most Aren’t Helpful Yet

    Feature Short

    HPD version 1.0’s promise of greater material transparency didn’t always deliver, but version 2.0 should provide accurate reporting.

  • Dances with Hazards: How Real Experts Pull Human Health into Design

    Feature Short

    John and Catherine prove that designers can work successfully with HPDs, especially if they have a toxicology consultant to support their multi-faceted selection process.

  • The PVC Debate

    Webcast

    If, like a lot of people, your head has been spinning over the last decade as PVC has been debated to point where clarity is hard to find, we'll review the key context that underlies this whole debate—and where facts and opinions diverge.

  • Healthy Insulation, Buildable Details

    Webcast

    In a one-hour on-demand webcast, architect Steve Baczek and BuildingGreen's Peter Yost will give you real-world examples of how to select insulation materials that fit big-picture environmental concerns—and how to incorporate them into actual assemblies that meet the highest standards of performance.

  • Toxic Chemicals in Buildings: How to Find & Avoid the Worst Offenders

    Webcast

    As a building professional, your clients look to you to help them make solid, science-based decisions about even more complex products and materials. Decisions about a school, a multifamily building, or a commercial office space can affect a lot of people. Do you have enough information to answer the questions of concerned clients? There are no easy answers to any of these questions, but we do know how to identify and eliminate some of the worst hazards from our buildings. In the webcast, we'll take a look at some successful strategies.