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.

  • Building Products Matter Even More Than We Thought


    Operational energy use is critical, but materials might be an even bigger part of the solution to climate change and other pressing environmental issues.

  • Plastics Industry Still Shouting "Fire" At Its Own Peril


    The foam insulation industry's united stand against code changes could backfire in the marketplace.

  • EBN's Position on Fly Ash


    EBN is concerned about heavy metals leaching from products made with fly ash, and thinks these products should only be used if they reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere or if the risk of leaching is very low.

  • Chemicals Article Lacked Balance


    Reader Ross Leonard challenges us on our reporting in the recent article on chemicals in green building.

  • Chemicals Are Safe


    The American Chemistry Council responds to our feature article on chemicals in green building products.

  • Polystyrene's Track Record


    Steve Russell, of the American Chemistry Council, suggests that the hazards associated with polystyrene are being overblown.

  • Watch for Other Toxics


    Two architects argue that some of the alternatives to polystyrene, such as polyurethane, come with their own hazards.

  • HBCD Isn't the Only Problem


    Tom Lent argues that we should be looking beyond HBCD when thinking about toxic chemicals.

  • Polystyrene Chemicals Widespread


    Polystyrene chemicals may be more widespread than most people think.

  • Rethinking Polystyrene Insulation


    We should avoid using polystyrene made with the flame retardant HBCD in our buildings, using rigid mineral wool, polyurethane, cellulose, or other alternatives instead.