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
    February 1, 2007

    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.

  • Get a Whiff of This: The Lowdown on Product Emissions Testing
    August 29, 2006

    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
    July 31, 2006

    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
    February 1, 2006

    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.

  • An Embarrassment of Riches: Products and Materials at Greenbuild 2017
    November 2, 2017

    Blog Post

    A new focus on embodied carbon and LEED v4 are driving designers to dive deep into what we choose for our buildings

  • California Law Closes Carpet Recycling Loophole, But Problems Remain
    November 6, 2017

    News Brief

    The new law no longer allows incineration, but health advocates say the carpet industry needs radical change before recycling can work.

  • How Six Affordable Housing Projects Got to Green
    October 6, 2017

    Feature Short

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

  • Mineral-Based Interior Paints Go Mainstream
    September 5, 2017

    Product Review

    Mineral-based paint from Romabio contains no synthetic resins, and can be used in place of standard interior acrylic latex paint on drywall.

  • Trump’s EPA Sets New Rules for Chemicals Under TSCA
    August 25, 2017

    News Brief

    Faster reviews and more industry-friendly risk assessments are among the changes to new TSCA rules.

  • Interior Paints: LEED v4 and Beyond
    September 6, 2017

    Product Review

    LEED v4 overhauled its low-emitting materials credit, with a new emphasis on VOC content and emissions. But be sure to look for durability as well.