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.

Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

Deep Dives

Get up to speed on complex topics. You can also earn CEUs and download PDF Spotlight Reports.


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  • Making Carpet Environmentally Friendly

    Feature Article

    Carpets are the most popular floorcovering in the U.S., but they have also been associated with environmental problems including indoor air emissions and intensive resource use. However, manufacturers have worked to curb their environmental footprints by recycling carpet, examining their life-cycle impacts, and pursuing broad-based certification.

  • Piping in Perspective: Selecting Pipe for Plumbing in Buildings

    Feature Article

    Potable water supply piping and drain-waste-vent piping represent a significant fraction of a building's materials. Choosing the greenest pipe for both applications, particularly deciding between metal pipe and plastic alternatives, requires evaluating a variety of environmental and human health impacts as well as durability and performance issues.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Quick Takes

Jump straight to the essentials with these short explanations of green building concepts.


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  • Synthetic Gypsum

    Primer

    Synthetic gypsum, used in drywall, is chemically the same as virgin gypsum but is created from a byproduct of coal-fired power plants. Are designer and contractor concerns about heavy metal contamination justified?

  • Brominated Flame Retardants

    Primer

    Keeping furnishings, appliances, and building materials from catching fire and burning up is important, but many flame retardants aren't good for us or the environment.

  • Using Fly Ash in Concrete

    Primer

    Fly ash lowers the environmental footprint of concrete and improves durability. Pouring and curing concrete with high levels of fly ash requires special treatment.

  • All About Formaldehyde

    Primer

    A naturally occurring organic compound used in binders for composite wood products, among other things, formaldehyde can create serious health problems in those exposed to high concentrations.

Product Guidance

Unbiased information from our product experts helps you separate green from greenwash.


In The News

We break news down to the essentials and provide expert analysis.


Perspective

Thought-provoking opinions from the most trusted minds in sustainability.


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Learning Resources

A wide range of education options, with automatic reporting for AIA and GBCI.


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Just For Fun

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