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Residential Fiberglass Insulation Transformed: Formaldehyde is No More

James Vallette | October 30, 2015 | Materials

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...


Recycling in the Age of Product Transparency

Wes Sullens | October 22, 2015 | Materials

Next year, the dominant green rating system in the world will complete the transition to a new iteration: LEED version 4. This transition sends a strong signal to the materials industry: the definition of green materials in LEED is shifting from single attributes like "rapidly renewable" or recycled content percentages, towards considerin...


Clear Lessons For Recycling Glass In Building Products

James Vallette | September 30, 2015 | Materials

The use of recycling materials in building products is evolving. The latest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED version 4) green building rating system no longer explicitly credits recycled materials, but it does reward transparency and disclosure of product lifecycles and contents. While recycling is more important t...


The end is near for phthalate plasticizers

James Vallette | July 09, 2015 | Materials

The market for toxic plasticizers in building materials is closing.  Yesterday, a third major retailer – Menards – announced that it is following Home Depot and Lowe’s leads, and will end the use of phthalate plasticizers in its vinyl floors by the end of 2015.  This follows similar actions by the world’s largest f...


New health concerns about common additives to carpet fibers

James Vallette | July 08, 2015 | Materials

Public health experts are sounding new alarms about two types of chemicals that are applied to carpet fibers: perchlorate anti-static treatments and perfluorochemical stain repellents.

Perchlorate anti-static treatments

Carpet manufacturers often add anti-static (antistat) treatments to carpet fibers, in order to prevent the buildup of electri...


Fly ash in concrete causing flooring installation failures

James Vallette | June 15, 2015 | Materials

Floor Trends magazine last week uploaded an enlightening video interview with consultant Lew Migliore (LGM & Associates). Migliore raised an issue that is just coming to light in the flooring industry: increasing proportions of fly ash in concrete underlayment are causing flooring installation failures.

“The fly ash issue has j...


Of Phthalates and Fraud: A Twitter mini-series

James Vallette | June 09, 2015 | Materials

Intro. #FollowTheMoney: Sixteen tweets on phthalates and fraud:inside @ExxonMobil’s efforts to save its poison plasticizers.— Jim Vallette (@HBNJim) June 2, 2015

Pt1 #FollowTheMoney 1998: American Council on Science and Health (@ASCHorg) hires Dr. Gilbert Ross, fresh out of prison, as Medical Director— Jim Vallette (@HBNJim) June 2, 2...


Materials Optimization Starts at the Intersection of Human Health and Recycling

Wes Sullens | April 29, 2015 | Materials

On Earth Day my organization (StopWaste) and the Healthy Building Network published the first in a series of in-depth studies of common feedstocks found in many recycled content building products: Post-Consumer Polyvinyl Chloride in Building Products. These reports are part of a new initiative we have undertaken along with the San Francisco Department of the Environment to identify options for enhancing recycled content value, fostering longer material reuse cycles, and improving environmental and human health.


Recycled Vinyl Can Reintroduce Chemical Hazards Into Building Products

James Vallette | April 22, 2015 | Materials

Today’s announcement by Home Depot that it will require manufacturers to phase out phthalate plasticizers from all of the vinyl flooring products it sells was the latest in a long history of efforts to eliminate hazardous additives from vinyl building products. But this does not mean that all phthalate-free vinyl floors (and other PVC products) are now free of potential concerns for building occupants.


Bees Need Healthy Buildings Too

James Vallette | March 26, 2015 | Materials

In the course of researching polystyrene foam insulation, the Healthy Building Network research team came to understand that these materials are susceptible to termite infestation. Polystyrene insulation manufacturers commonly add insecticides to combat termites, especially in exterior and below grade insulation. This includes a type of Styrofoam m...