You Make It Happen!

Bill Walsh - December 17, 2013

Dear Friends, When I ask people what they value most about the Healthy Building Network, nearly everyone says: your integrity and independence. That is the foundation of all of the work we do and all of the successes we've had since we began in the year 2000. That independent foundation has been built with funding from philanthropic organizations and individuals that support us with tax-deductible contributions each year. You make it happen! We are a not-for-profit organization that accepts no financial support from product manufacturers. We make our information widely available at low or no cost. We depend upon those who value the information we provide to support us at whatever level is right for their circumstances. If you value this newsletter and the blogs published by my colleagues in The Signal, consider a subscription-level contribution of $10 per month to keep the information flowing! Or, consider the value of our cutting edge research and reports. I've... Read More

HBN Report: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection

Bill Walsh - December 12, 2013

A new HBN Report, Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection, provides information on how we can, through the careful selection of building materials and furnishings, reduce and even avoid exposures to certain chemicals that can lead to the onset of asthma. This is the first report to cross-reference authoritative lists of chemicals identified as known or suspected asthmagens against ingredient lists of common building products. We did this using HBN's Pharos Project, a materials database that evaluates building products against chemical hazard lists. HBN Researchers Jim Vallette and Sarah Lott identified twenty top-priority asthmagens in nine chemical groups that are used in building materials and have a high likelihood of occupant exposure. These asthmagens are found in foam insulation, paints, adhesives, floors and carpets, among many other interior materials. Additionally, we identified a dozen chemicals commonly used in... Read More

Greenbuild 2013 From A to Z

Bill Walsh - November 26, 2013

No one person can experience everything that happens at Greenbuild, the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) annual conference and exhibition. Last week in Philadelphia, as always, members of the HBN team could be heard in the education sessions, buttonholed on the party circuit, and found faithfully staffing the HBN booth in the Expo Hall. With apologies for its extended length (it was a big conference) and the promise of returning to our brief format next time, here are the perspectives we gained, from A to Z, at Greenbuild 2013! A. Assa Abloy is at the top, and not just because it's an alphabetical list! The first manufacturer to step forward to help lead the Health Product Declaration initiative last year had lots of company this year. B. Bank of America's "ladies," the sustainability leaders who made this correspondent feel invited, not intimidated at the Women In Green Power breakfast celebrating their mentor, Alexandra Liftman, and mine, Gail... Read More

Options? Rivals? Imitators? Transparency Market Has Them All

Bill Walsh - November 6, 2013

The Health Product Declaration (HPD), within a year of its introduction at Greenbuild 2012, has inspired a growing array of transparency... options? rivals? imitators? One thing is for sure, we have entered a new age of market transparency, and it has changed the conversation about building materials for good. The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) recently joined the dialogue with a publicity blitz touting a new Product Transparency Declaration (PTD) prototype. It is modeled after the HPD, but with less stringent ingredient disclosure thresholds and absent any hazard reporting not already required by law.[1]  One flooring manufacturer who is not an RFCI member, Forbo, has publicly opposed the RFCI approach.[2]  Another company that is a member of the RFCI, Tarkett, is introducing a different disclosure prototype, the Environmental Health Standard, developed in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Encouragement Association (EPEA). It features only partial... Read More

Remembering Florence

Bill Walsh - September 25, 2013

On Tuesday, September 17th, Florence Helfand passed away at age 84. She was the mother of filmmaker Judith Helfand, and along with her late husband, Ted, a star of Judith’s 2002 award winning documentary, Blue Vinyl. More than that, Florence was the courageous if reluctant face of a generation of DES Mothers, 5 million women who took the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) with devastating health consequences for their offspring, especially girls. In 1990, at age 25, Judith was diagnosed with DES-related cervical cancer. She went home to her family to heal from a radical hysterectomy. There she picked up her camera. Her video diary, A Healthy Baby Girl, was shot over five years and was first broadcast on PBS in June 1997. It goes beyond loss to document mother-daughter love, family renewal, survival, political awakening, and community activism. Five years later, Blue Vinyl was inspired by Judith’s desire to use her experience with this powerful... Read More

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