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Environmental Justice

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency:
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Poor people and people of color are disproportionately impacted by the hazardous industrial chemical emissions associated with the production of common building materials. In Louisiana, fenceline communities (the towns that border the factories making PVC used in siding, roofing, floors and pipes) suffer documented exposure to exceptionally high levels of the human carcinogen dioxin.

Thousands of miles from the nearest industrial facility, in the farthest reaches of the Arctic, Inuit mothers report the highest levels of breast milk contamination by endocrine-disrupting chemicals carried in the fat of the marine mammals that comprise the bulk of their traditional diet.

The Healthy Building Network promotes achieving environmental justice in green building in two ways:

First, by working to ensure that green building standards and practices -- particularly those relating to toxic chemicals used and released during the production, use and disposal of building materials - conform to environmental justice priorities, such as the elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and Persistent and Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBTs) that disproportionately impact the poor, and people of color.

Second, by working to ensure that these communities receive fair treatment and have meaningful involvement in establishing green building standards and practices, particularly with regard to materials selection.

HBN advocates green building practices and policies that advance the goals of the Louisville Charter (PDF), including implementation of the Stockholm Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants (PDF), and the Precautionary Principle, which has been endorsed by leading environmental health and justice organizations.

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