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  • Clear Lessons For Recycling Glass In Building Products. 4 The Optimizing Recycling Series of reports is a collaboration between the Healthy Building Network, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect health in the built environment, and StopWaste, a public agency responsible for reducing the waste stream in Alameda County, CA, with support from the San Francisco Department of the Environment. It examines the hazards, supply chains, and economic impacts of recycled feedstock streams found in building products. [posted: Sep 30 2015]
  • New SFI Standards Still Fail To Protect Forests. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has released its newly revised 2015-2019 Standards and Rules. Promoted as an important advancement the revised standards appear to do little to address the longstanding complaints of leading environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth and the Rainforest Action Network. These groups consider the timber industry-founded, financed and governed SFI system little more than greenwash.[1] According to a preliminary analysis by long-time SFI watchdog ForestEthics, the revised SFI standards still fail to advance meaningful reform of industrial forestry practices, including some that violate the rights of indigenous peoples, decimate wildlife and habitat, degrade water quality, poison surrounding communities with toxic herbicides, and convert forests to other land uses. Key deficiencies that persist in the new SFI standards include: See more at: http://www.healthybuilding.net/news/2015/02/09/new-sfi-standards-still-fail-to-protect-forests#sthash.ZrYtAVzy.dpuf [posted: Feb 9 2015]
  • Antibacterials In Building Products: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly. Last month’s article by Bill Walsh, ‘The Dirt on Antimicrobials’, spoke of the recent trend to infuse antimicrobial substances other than antibiotics into building products. I had known that antimicrobial substances were creeping into many consumer items, such as soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, and hand-wipes to name but a few. I did not, however, know the extent to which these substances were finding their way into people’s homes, places of work, offices, hospitals and other environments via ‘paints, tiles and grouts, carpets, solid surfaces, faucets, elevator buttons and toilet seats.’ The lack of study and evidence to support their use in these situations, combined with what we know of bacteria’s capacity to adapt, is extremely worrisome for me as a microbiologist and a consumer. In this situation I believe it’s a case of what we don’t know might hurt us! See more about: Antibacterials. [posted: Nov 21 2014]
  • The Dirt On Antimicrobials. The infusion of antimicrobial materials into building products is on the rise. Manufacturers now routinely add substances such as nano-silver and the pesticide triclosan to paints, tiles and grouts, carpets, solid surfaces, faucets, elevator buttons and toilet seats. The dirty truth is: they do not make people healthier. They do cause environmental harm throughout their lifecycle. And their overuse, like the overuse of antibiotics, may contribute to the evolution of microbes that are more resistant to our known antimicrobial defenses. The authoritative evidence could not be clearer. One of the most widely used antimicrobials is triclosan, which is sold under trade names such as Microban and BioFresh. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established its position on these antimicrobials in 2003 after a comprehensive study of infection control practice concluding: ‘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.'[1] 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 purpose of greater infection control and the subsequent prevention of hospital acquired infections.’ See more about: Antimicrobials. [posted: Oct 21 2014]
  • It’s Time To Rethink Recycling. Recycling is a deeply embedded principle of green building. From the beginning of LEED, recycling has stood by itself as an important attribute of material and waste management credits. These credits, in turn, fueled a huge increase in recycled content in many building materials, from wallboard to concrete to carpet to construction fill. The status quo is about to change. The green building movement is in the midst of a quantum leap in understanding, during which the collection of information through transparency tools is paramount. Product ingredient data collected by systems like the Health Product Declaration, the Pharos Project, Declare and Environmental Product Declarations informs the new multi-attribute assessment structure into which LEED Version 4 and green building in general are moving. The single attribute of recycled content is not necessarily enough anymore. See more about: Recycling. [posted: Oct 10 2014]
  • Truce or Surrender at USGBC?. Last week the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a joint press release announcing an unspecified ‘new initiative designed to ensure the use of sustainable and environmentally protective products in buildings by applying technical and science-based approaches to the LEED green building program.’ In an interview with Environmental Building News, a USGBC spokesperson identified a ‘supply chain optimization working group’ as the heart of the new program. The supply chain optimization working group is not a new initiative, however. It was announced previously in Spring 2013 in a published call for working group members[1], and has been under discussion since the USGBC’s last minute insertion of the ‘supply chain optimization’ credit pathway in LEED v.4 at the behest of the chemical industry.[2] The working group never achieved liftoff, it appears, because the ACC left the table to wage its war on LEED. See more about: USGBC. [posted: Sep 3 2014]
  • More Vinyl Greenwash. The replacement of harmful phthalate plasticizers in a growing array of vinyl products is fueling a new rebranding campaign in the vinyl industry. Clean-vinyl and Bio-vinyl are a few of the trade names at the forefront of this campaign to position phthalate-free vinyl as a breakthrough and advanced green product. HBN’s in-depth evaluation of the new phthalate-free formulations reveals that these claims are more than mere overstatements. They’re more greenwash from the vinyl industry. [posted: Jun 9 2014]
  • Making Sense of Phthalate-Free Vinyl. Today my colleagues in HBN’s Pharos Project have released the first comprehensive analysis of the plasticizers that are replacing phthalates in flexible vinyl building products. The replacement chemicals in phthalate-free vinyl are not always clearly identified by manufacturers. The level of toxicity testing and the testing results vary among the six non-phthalate formulas we found now in use. The HBN analysis will help purchasers evaluate the claims of phthalate-free product lines in order to make informed choices about a wide array of materials including flooring, wall guards and coverings, wire and cabling, upholstery and membrane roofing. [posted: Jun 9 2014]
  • Time to Close the Europe/US Paint Healthfulness Gap. Changes as significant as the elimination of lead and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are rolling over the paint industry. Leading global paint companies are removing four classes of toxic ingredients from products sold in Europe in order to qualify for valued ecolabels. Many of the same companies dominate the US market, but do not offer these healthier products for sale here. It is time they did [posted: Apr 10 2014]
  • Buyers Beware: Coal Ash In Building Products. 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. [posted: Jan 31 2014]
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