Avoiding Toxic Chemicals


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.

  • Cradle to Cradle Certification: A Peek Inside MBDC's Black Box

    Feature Article

    Cradle to Cradle is a multiple-attribute product certification program based on the philosophy of architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, and the work of their company, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC). While MBDC's consulting services are driving breakthroughs in green manufacturing, the certification program lacks some of the comprehensiveness and transparency that are increasingly expected in the green certification market.

  • Home Depot Discontinues PFAS-Laden Carpets and Rugs

    News Brief

     Home Depot will no longer sell floor coverings with PFAS stain and dirt repellents—part of a larger campaign to rid its products of toxics.

  • Get a Whiff of This: The Lowdown on Product Emissions Testing

    Feature Article

    Analytical chemistry tools, used together with product testing chambers, are making it possible to "see" product emissions in new ways. Editor Nadav Malin discusses the science behind product emissions testing, the different product certification standards, and what's ahead for this growing field.

  • Treated Wood in Transition: Less Toxic Options in Preserved and Protected Wood

    Feature Article

    Following the recent phaseout of CCA, the dominant wood preservative of the last 30 years, the treated wood industry is in major transition. Some current wood treatment technologies present familiar environmental problems, while less-toxic alternatives are just entering the market.

  • Polished Concrete Outshines Other Flooring Options

    Feature Article

    Stone-polishing techniques and mineralizing treatments are turning concrete into one of the most functional, most cost-effective, and greenest flooring options around. In this feature article, Alex Wilson explores the ups and downs of polished, densified concrete.

  • Liquid Linoleum: Seamless Natural Flooring

    Product Review

    Linoleum’s natural ingredients often make it the best resilient flooring option. Corques Liquid Linoleum is a fluid-applied version for seamless applications.

  • A More Sustainable Fluorinated PVDF Metal Coating

    Product Review

    With the PVDF coating Fluropon Pure, “fluorinated” does not necessarily mean persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic.

  • Chlorine and Plastic: Part Two

    News Brief

    The Healthy Building Network has released an extensive study detailing Asia’s chlorine production used to make PVC and other plastics.

  • Do Flame Retardants Work? Putting Foam Insulation to the Test

    News Analysis

    A deeper look at California’s decision to allow flame-retardant-free foam under concrete slabs

  • California Approves Flame-Retardant-Free Insulation Below Grade

    News Brief

    Though products are not yet on the market, a state commission has given the go-ahead for select foam insulation without flame retardants or fire testing.