Buyers Beware: Coal Ash In Building Products

Jim Vallette - January 30, 2014

Shortly after HBN published this newsletter, the US EPA released a new report, Coal Combustion Residual Beneficial Use Evaluation: Fly Ash Concrete and FGD Gypsum Wallboard (February 2014). Click here to read Jim Vallette's analysis of this document. News reports this week are citing two new EPA-funded studies of coal ash as conclusive proof that using coal power plant waste in cement and wallboard poses no risk to human health or the environment. Industry proponents say these reports prove that there is nothing to fear from using these wastes in building products, and that this practice will be absolved when EPA releases its new coal ash regulations in December. Buyers Beware. The stakes are high. The stakes are high for building owners because coal combustion wastes contain numerous hazardous substances including heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. The hazards associated with coal combustion wastes are passed on to building owners and occupants. If... Read More

FDA Acts On Antimicrobials

Bill Walsh - January 8, 2014

In case you missed it, just before Christmas, the US Food and Drug Administration proposed a new regulation that calls into question the growing use of antimicrobial chemicals used in a wide array of products, including building materials.[1] HBN has reported since 2010 on how the safety and the efficacy of adding antimicrobials to everyday products has been consistently challenged by independent investigations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded a 2003 comprehensive study of infection control practice with the statement that "No evidence is available to suggest that use of these [antimicrobial] products will make consumers and patients healthier or prevent disease. No data support the use of these items as part of a sound infection-control strategy." Kaiser Permanente similarly concluded in a December 2006 position statement that "[w]e do not recommend environmental surface finishes or fabrics that contain antimicrobials for the... Read More

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

For more news and analysis from HBN's research team, visit our companion blog at the Pharos Project:

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