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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

Emissions from Carpet Tiles Sickens Three Minnesota Workers

HBN | April 2019 Newsletter

Symptoms of “sick building” syndrome include “headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors”. These symptoms can develop after long-term exposures, or they can occur after a single instance of exposure, as in the case reported by the Minnesota Daily last month. Three carpet installers were sent to the emergency room after installing carpeting in an apartment building intended for student housing near the University of Minnesota. The workers could not tell doctors what they were exposed to because the carpeting did not include a complete list of contents. To find out, the workers first measured the air quality with a device ordered off of Amazon, which immediately “jumped to red” when exposed to the carpeting. The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trade Council then sent carpet samples to a lab for emissions testing. This testing found total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) at levels that “significantly exceed” typical levels in the air. The chemicals noted on the report included some on the Minnesota Department of Health list of Chemicals of High Concern.

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

HomeFree Campus: Online Classes for Selecting Healthier, Affordable Products

HBN | April 2019 Newsletter

Are you constructing or remodeling a space and want to learn why and how to select healthier products? Healthy Building Network is excited to announce the launch of the HomeFree Campus, an online education resource that provides simple, science-based information that can help you select affordable, healthier materials. 

Learning with HomeFree will support you and your team in the following ways:

  • Building core awareness and understanding — why do healthy materials matter for you, your residents, installers, and the environment?
  • Providing guidance for selecting healthier building products; know what to ask.

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

The Next Challenge in Indoor Air Quality: SVOCs

HBN | April 2019 Newsletter

Concerns about indoor air quality are as old as the republic. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams are said to have argued the relative merits of sleeping with open windows in 1776. A century later, their institutional progeny at the US Environmental Protection Agency sided more or less with Franklin after studying Sick Building Syndrome concluding that “most indoor air pollution comes from sources inside the building.” Building materials led the EPA list of culprits. Today, as New Yorker contributor Nicola Twilley recounts in the most engaging article you will ever read about hydroxyl radicals (“Pac Man of the atmosphere”), research capabilities are so sophisticated that it is possible isolate with scientific precision the impact on indoor air quality of toasting bread or a squeeze of lime. Still, among the most elusive indoor air contaminants after all these years are a subclass of chemicals known as semi-volatile organic compounds - SVOCs  - chemicals that can’t be “controlled” with better ventilation. 

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

Lauren Heine Joins MaterialWise, Enhancing Science, Data and Collaboration Capabilities

HBN | April 2019 Newsletter

Dr. Lauren Heine has joined MaterialWise as Director of Safer Materials & Data Integrity. A pioneering leader in the field of green chemistry, Heine brings decades of experience and leadership in green chemistry and engineering, alternatives assessment and multi-stakeholder collaboration which will accelerate MaterialWise’s efforts to enable a prosperous, toxic-free future for people, the planet and commerce.

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

Newly Completed Inventory of Chlorine & PVC Production Sheds New Light on Supply Chain Challenges

Teresa McGrath and Jim Vallette | March 2019 Newsletter

Demand from the building industry now drives the production of chlorine, the key ingredient of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) widely used in pipes, siding, roofing membranes, wall covering, flooring, and carpeting. Chlorine is also an essential feedstock for epoxies used in adhesives and flooring topcoats, and for polyurethane used in insulation and flooring.  On March 19, 2019, the Healthy Building Network will release Phase 2 of its landmark report on chlorine-based plastics that are widely used in common building and construction products. The report, “​Chlorine and Building Materials: A Global Inventory of Production Technologies, Markets, and Pollution. Phase 2: Asia,”​ completes HBN’s global analysis of the industry.  

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

New Resource for Specifying Healthier Insulation and Sealants

Rebecca Stamm | March 2019 Newsletter

Healthy Building Network, along with Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), has released “Guidance for Specifying Healthier Insulation and Air-Sealing Materials,” a new resource to help those working in multifamily energy efficiency upgrades make healthier material choices.

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

HBN is Hiring!

Teresa McGrath | March 2019 Newsletter

Be part of a non-profit organization that is making the world a healthier place. We are seeking an experienced Materials Researcher to contribute to HBN's body of research on building products, chemicals, and related health hazards. Click here for more information or to apply. 
 

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HBN Blog category: Newsletter

Banksy & Building Products: The Justice of Full Transparency

Bill Walsh | January 2019 Newsletter

The powerful new Banksy mural that appeared in a small town in Wales just before Christmas 2018 seems at first to be a timeless and global statement. But like the Dickensian dystopia it evokes, it is also particular to a place and time – Port Talbot, a town situated hard against the Tata Steel mill on Wales’ southwest coast.  People, especially those of us who define what healthy buildings and healthy products are, have a right, and an obligation, to know where building products come from, and what life is like there.

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