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Antibacterials In Building Products: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly

Davida S. Smyth, PhD | November 19, 2014 | Materials

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...


Welcome, Greenbuild attendees, to the Asthma Corridor

James Vallette | October 21, 2014 | Materials

The 2014 Greenbuild conference and exhibition is happening at the mouth of what has long been described as America’s Cancer Corridor.  Petrochemical plants line the Mississippi River between New Orleans, host to this year’s Greenbuild, and Baton Rouge, the state capital.    Here, multinational corporations have pro...


The Dirt On Antimicrobials

Bill Walsh | October 15, 2014 | Materials

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 e...


Cracking the (Building) Code on Flame Retardants

Melissa Coffin | September 18, 2014 | Materials

Halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) used in building materials and their breakdown products can be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic.  As such, they appear on restriction lists used by many in the green building community, including the Living Building Challenge Red List and the Perkins+Will Precautionary List.   Beyond their...


Pharos Tackles Sanitary Ware

Melissa Coffin | August 05, 2014 | Materials

Building on our review of ceramic and porcelain tiles earlier this year, the Pharos team has added a Sanitary Ware category to our building product library.   Flushometers, toilets, tanks, and toilet seats now appear in Pharos.

This was an interesting experience for us – trying to decipher the material composition of a class of...


Making Sense of Phthalate-Free Vinyl

Bill Walsh | May 29, 2014 | Materials

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...


One Tiny Problem with Mortar & Grout: Nanosilver

Melissa Coffin | May 19, 2014 | Materials

When we opened a Pharos product category for Ceramic Tiles last month, the mortars and grouts required to install them were a bit of an afterthought: essentially cement, we assumed, adding these products to Pharos would be a snap.  As it happens, we were wrong on both counts.  Far from just cement, there is a wide range of chemistries u...


Made in the USA: A Healthy Choice for Ceramic Tiles

James Vallette | April 02, 2014 | Materials

When purchasing ceramic wall or flooring tiles, focus on products made in the USA.  Not only will you help staunch the exodus of the ceramic tile industry to other continents, you will probably avoid bringing toxic heavy metals into your building project.

That is the main conclusion from our research into the ceramic tile industry, which c...


State Seeking Safer Paint Strippers, Sleep Pads, and Spray Foam

Tom Lent | March 13, 2014 | Materials

“Is it necessary?” That’s the key question the State of California is asking about chemicals in consumer products that are known to cause serious harm to people or the environment. The state took a small but very significant step today in its Safer Consumer Product program, identifying the first three product-chemical combinatio...


Asthmagen FAQ: Pharos users continue the discussion

Sarah Lott | January 30, 2014 | Materials

Last month, the Pharos research team released a Healthy Building Network (HBN) report on asthmagens in building materials titled Full Disclosure Required: a Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection. Since then,  Signal readers have raised some great questions about our report and the HBN priority asthmagens filter that w...