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Air Pollution Control Boosts Mercury Levels in Coal Ash

James Vallette | March 01, 2013 | Materials

In previous Pharos Signal articles and Healthy Building Network newsletters, we have examined the use of coal power plant waste in building materials.  Over the past dozen years, fly ash became a low-cost way for building product manufacturers to incorporate LEED recycled content credit-friendly filler in a range of materials, like carpet ba...

Building Interiors an Important Source of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals to Children

James Vallette | February 25, 2013 | Materials

An exhaustive study by the World Health Organization / United Nations Environment Programme fingers building materials as major sources of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and calls for the disclosure of chemical contents in products: “(O)ver the past decade it has become clear that humans, in particular small children, are… expo...

Seeking PBT-free Silicone Sealants

James Vallette | February 01, 2013 | Materials

Today, the Pharos Project released a new “common ingredients” record, this one for silicone adhesives and sealants. Silicones affix and seal many materials to buildings, from carpet backing to window framing. In the course of this research, we identified two ingredients of particular concern: cyclosiloxanes and organotin catalysts....

Another industry front against chemical safety exposed

James Vallette | January 30, 2013 | Policies

A new voice you might be hearing in green building policy debates should sound familiar to the careful listener. An examination of comments and actions authored by an organization called the Taxpayer Protection Alliance (TPA) finds close parallels to testimony from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which has been working hard, behind-the-scenes...

Give Thanks: NSF Retracts Post-consumer Fly Ash Designation

James Vallette | November 20, 2012 | Policies

Late yesterday, NSF International issued a statement retracting its recent change in position on fly ash: “NSF International, an independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the building, food, water and consumer goods industries, has retracted verification of the claim that Boral Material Techno...

The Greenbuild EXPO 2012 Transparency Treasure Hunt

James Vallette | November 14, 2012 | Policies

Anyone missing the excitement of the presidential election can get a recharge by coming here, to the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild EXPO 2012. A high-stakes political campaign rages around a modest proposal to incorporate a new materials credit in LEED® v4. The proposed Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credit would reward transparency through disclosure of material contents and the avoidance of chemicals of concern.

SEC conflict mineral rules hit building industry

James Vallette | August 30, 2012 | Policies

Some publicly traded building product manufacturers, beginning in 2013, will be required to report on the presence of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold in their products.   In a 3-2 vote last week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules that implement disclosure requirements for “conflict minerals.” Th...

"All of That Is Gone Now": Coal Waste Processors Sue EPA

James Vallette | August 20, 2012 | Materials

The two largest processors of coal power plant waste used in building materials - Boral Material Technologies and Headwaters Resources - are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency over its indecision about regulating their products. For all concerned, it would have been better to have this discussion before coal combustion waste entered the b...

Senate Vote Builds Case Against Toxic Commerce

James Vallette | July 26, 2012 | Policies

Toxic commerce flourishes in the opaque US regulatory environment. For over thirty years, corporate members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have enjoyed the confidentiality and toothless nature of the most important chemical regulation that applies to them: the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

But the days of secrecy and unregulated...