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Buyer Beware: Chemicals of Concern Found in Flooring & Wallcoverings

Tom Lent | October 19, 2010 | Materials

Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals are still widespread in some types of interior finishes according to a major study of home improvement products released today. Researchers from tested a wide range of national and local brand flooring and wallpaper products and discovered lead, phthalates, brominated flame retardants and...

New Study Ranks PVC "At Bottom" in Green Design, Life Cycle Assessment

Bill Walsh | October 13, 2010 | Materials

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh evaluated the environmental impacts of 12 different polymers, both petroleum and biomass based, using green design principles such as the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and the 12 Principles of Green Engineering, as well as conventional life cycle assessment (LCA) tools. Three of the polymers evaluated...

Fly Ash in Building Products: Proceed with Precaution

Bill Walsh | September 15, 2010 | Materials

On September 1, 2010, Environmental Building News (EBN) announced it would "no longer consider the use of fly ash in products or materials to be an environmental attribute when doing so does not offset greenhouse gas emissions." EBN continues to support the use fly ash as a substitute for portland cement in concrete. In his editorial expl...

PEER hits coal waste in building products

Bill Walsh | August 19, 2010 | Materials

If you have been working to eliminate mercury exposure and contamination, it is well worth reading the comments filed yesterday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility ( objecting to EPA's proposal to promote the beneficial use of coal ash wastes in a wide array of products from cement to cosmetics.

As a PEER w...

Shine and Color Matter: Paint Tints, Sheens and Human Health

Julie Silas | June 02, 2010 | Materials

There are thousands of paint products on the market today.  For interior paint products, manufacturers offer a variety of sheens: flat, eggshell, gloss, semi-gloss.  And, for each sheen, the product is offered in a whole host of base tint options: neutral, white tint, pastel tint, dark tint, etc.

In Pharos, we started the standard paint...

Fly Ash: More Questions than Answers from EPA

Bill Walsh | May 19, 2010 | Materials

On May 4, 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a long-awaited proposal that addresses “coal combustion residuals,” known as CCRs, which include fly ash that is frequently used as recycled content in building materials. The EPA proposal aggressively promotes this use of fly ash as a “beneficial use.” To drast...

Wallboard: No Longer a Dry Subject

James Vallette | April 28, 2010 | Materials

Some building materials are so bland that they draw little notice. Until recently, about the only people who cared about drywall were those who handled it. Beneath paint and other finishes, the boards lay unseen and unconsidered by those living and working in its gypsum cocoon. Then thousands of complaints erupted, mainly in the Gulf Coast regio...

Sprayed Polyurethane Foams: An Explosive Issue

James Vallette | April 27, 2010 | Materials

"On a Saturday afternoon this past May, while pumping a two-part 'GREEN' soy-based foam into the attic ceiling of a Cape Cod home renovation, a fireball erupted, taking the hose man's life."

So begins a harrowing account by health and safety consultant Richard Hughes, in which he explores how a polyurethane spray foam applica...

Blue Vinyl, Green Vinyl ? . . . Nice Vinyl, Mean Vinyl

Bill Walsh | April 14, 2010 | Materials

By all accounts my debate on Tuesday night with the Vinyl Institute at the New Jersey Green Building Council was deemed a successful event for all who attended. The Vinyl Industry reps are good at what they do, and they were getting to speak first. I expected them to come out swinging, so I came prepared with Dr. Joe Thornton's comprehensive an...

Toxic Trade 2010: Drywall

James Vallette | April 08, 2010 | Materials

A couple decades ago, I helped to organize a campaign to stop the export of hazardous waste from the industrialized North to the rest of the world. Ultimately, our work resulted in a ban on many forms of such toxic trade. It is shocking to see the same tricks that waste traders played on impoverished communities being reenacted in my home country....