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TSCA Chemical Hazards

How safe are the man-made chemicals that surround us?   Chemical Hazards are a concern for everyone. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976 and is the country’s main chemical safety law. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for enforcing TSCA, but significant weaknesses in TSCA have left the EPA unable

BECx_Silicon Valley

An Insider’s Point of View Being an architect myself and having worked as an architectural project manager until 2012, I have an insider’s view into the profession. In the 18 years of practicing architecture, I worked across many different sectors including residential, commercial and higher education, getting a really good feel for how different sectors

TB117

You may have heard about the problem with flame retardants in polyurethane furniture foams. If you haven’t, and you want a safer sofa, I highly recommend reading the Chicago Tribune’s exposé on the flame retardant industry: Playing With Fire. The California flammability standard, known as TB117, in effect required manufacturers to use toxic flame retardant chemicals

The Materials and Human Health Summit provided a good explanation of the approach that LEED v4 is taking with regard to materials transparency in LEEDv4. (See my previous post, Tension at the Materials and Human Health Summit? for more on the event). In place of the controversial LEED Pilot Credit 54 that ignited some of the animosity between

Is PVC Toxic?

Friday, 13 December 2013 by

Is PVC Toxic to Humans? We are often asked, “Is PVC Toxic?” Is polyvinyl chloride (PVC or “vinyl”) is toxic to humans when it is used as a building product. Or, is it only problematic during manufacturing and/or disposal? The answer is that PVC is toxic to humans throughout its life cycle. In production, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors

Nanotechnology and Coatings

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 by

In helping our clients choose healthy building materials, I tend to be weary of coatings in general, but nanocoatings are of particular concern. In building materials, manufacturers advertise nanocoatings on carpets, upholstery, photovoltaics, and even toilets. I’ve seen these coatings used as stain repellants, waterproofing coatings or as finishes that create a smooth and easily

Lead in Ceramics

Friday, 25 October 2013 by
lead in ceramics

Recently I was helping a client select ceramic tiles in her new home, and my initial instinct was to approve all the tiles as “healthy” without much research into their contents. I couldn’t imagine there would be any toxicity issues with lead in ceramics. Wasn’t Lead Banned in Ceramics Along with Paints? After reading that one

Quartzite radiation test

Radiation Exposure How Much Is “Too Much” Alex Stadtner, president of Healthy Building Science, wrote a blog in April 2012 entitled “Radioactive Granite and Quartzite – Risks from Radon” about discovering high levels of radiation in Quartzite and Granite used in residential building for items such as countertops, flooring, and bath and shower enclosures.  While

Blown-in-Cellulose Insulation

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 by
blown-in-cellulose insulation

Blown-in-Cellulose Insulation Test Results On a recent project, we recommended a homeowner try Blown-in-Cellulose insulation as a healthy alternative to other insulation choices. Blown-in-cellulose is known in the healthy materials world as a pretty safe insulation choice. But just to be sure the product was safe, we sent a wet sample to a lab for

Energy Efficient Home

Wednesday, 19 June 2013 by
Energy Efficient LEED Home

A Comfortable and Energy Efficient Home through Science – Part 1 I am a big believer in using principles of science and an understanding of the sun’s movement through the sky to enhance your comfort while also making it a more energy efficient home. I am going to devote the next few blogs to giving

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