sustainability

Red List chemicals

By CHRIS MAGWOOD
Posted 4/14/21

Building materials can contain many different chemicals, yet only lead and asbestos are directly regulated to be excluded from our buildings. Builders may want to adopt the precau­tionary …

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sustainability

Red List chemicals

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Building materials can contain many different chemicals, yet only lead and asbestos are directly regulated to be excluded from our buildings. Builders may want to adopt the precau­tionary principle in the area of human health and chemicals in building materials: “Where there are threats of serious
or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent degradation.”1

There are some chemicals, however, that do have full scientific certainty in regard to their effects on humans and the environment. The Living Building Challenge2 has created this Red List of chemicals that cannot be contained in any building attempting to meet the challenge and should be adopted by all builders:

• Alkylphenols
• Asbestos
• Bisphenol A (BPA)
• Cadmium
• Chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) and chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE)
• Chlorobenzene
• Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
• Chloroprene (or neoprene)
• Chromium VI
• Formaldehyde
• Halogenated fire retardants (HFRs)
• Lead
• Mercury
• Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
• Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)
• Phthalates
• Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC)
• Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)
• Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in wet-applied products
• Wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic, or pentachlorophenol

*You can find more information at www.bit.ly/unglobal15 and www.living-future.org

Excerpted from Essential Home Design by Chris Magwood.

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