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Resource Library

Smart Resources for Understanding the Hazards of PVC

Dec 11, 2018

As the largest consumer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the building and construction industry shares a large responsibility for the global pollution unleashed by its production. In HBN’s first research report, Environmental Impacts of Polyvinyl Chloride Building Materials (2002), Dr. Joe Thornton observed, “The hazards posed by dioxins, phthalates, metals, vinyl chloride, and ethylene dichloride are largely unique to PVC, which is the only major building material and the only major plastic that contains chlorine or requires plasticizers or stabilizers.” Although many architecture and design firms, health care systems, product certifiers, and building owners have red listed PVC since Dr. Thornton’s report, global production of PVC continues to rise. This industry’s impacts are growing.

Phase 1 of our Chlorine & Building Materials Project updates Dr. Thornton’s analysis of the impacts of PVC production, from ozone layer depletion to the global distribution of bio-accumulative toxicants, from ocean pollution to fenceline community disasters. In a recent webinar hosted by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), I described our findings and their relationships to building products.

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Careful Insulation Selection and Installation Can Protect R-Value and Health

Oct 9, 2018

Proper installation techniques as well as protection during installation are key to achieving optimal product performance and to protecting both workers and residents during and after insulation is installed.

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Q&A from “When is it "green"? Preventing the Toxic Effects of Spray Foam Insulation”

Sep 20, 2017

Thanks to all who attended our webinar “When is it "green"? Preventing the Toxic Effects of Spray Foam Insulation”!

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Does Healthy SPF Exist?

Feb 13, 2017

Spray Foam products marketed as being healthier may be formulated without some of the hazardous chemicals traditionally found in SPF products, but don’t replace the really bad actor chemicals. SPF insulation - even those with improved formulations - remain at the bottom of our Stoplight chart, in dark red. (Updated, April 4, 2017.)

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On Tire Wastes in Playgrounds

Jun 16, 2016

As temperatures rise on ballfields across America, so do concerns over the piles of tire waste upon which children play. Synthetic turf playing fields lie atop heaps of finely ground recycled rubber from old tires. In playgrounds, chopped up tire mulch is becoming as common as dirt.  In the United States between 2007 and 2013, enough ground ti...

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Filled with Uncertainty: Toxic Dirt in Building & Construction

Jun 13, 2016

In a cavernous, lightly filled, State House hearing room last month[2] Over in New York City, regulators have cracked down on soil traders, and say contaminated fill is going into the “cheapest hole.”[4], that received over 11 millions of tons of waste to recycle, including contaminated soil.[6] After losing its license, Pure...

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Residential Fiberglass Insulation Transformed: Formaldehyde is No More

Oct 30, 2015

Earlier this year, one last piece of light density residential fiberglass insulation bearing formaldehyde-based binder rolled off a production line somewhere in the Midwest United States. Then the line stopped, and a new binder came on line.  As of October 2015, every fiberglass insulation company in the United States and Canada has phased out...

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Removing Arsenic from Building Materials: A Success Story

Mar 12, 2013

March 17th marks the 10th anniversary of the EPA order that made it illegal to use the arsenic-based pesticide CCA (chromated copper arsenate) to treat wood intended for most residential uses, including wood destined for decks, picnic tables, landscaping timbers, gazebos, residential fencing, patios, walkways and play structures. This is also a hap...

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