Does Your Paint Contain Cobalt Mined By Children In The #DRC?

Jim Vallette - February 5, 2016

Amnesty International recently reported on the connection between popular consumer products and cobalt mined by young children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Their research “exposes the need for transparency, without which multinationals can profit from human-rights abuses like child labor without checking where and how the raw materials in their products are mined.” [1] Amnesty’s investigation focused on the cobalt supply chain that leads to batteries used in computers, electric cars, and mobile phones. But common building and construction products, like paint, natural oil stains, and countertops, also are major end users of cobalt, often from the same suppliers used by smartphone manufacturers. This Is What We Die For documents the horrors of mining cobalt in the southern DRC. This region produces half of the world's cobalt. [2] Artisanal miners (defined as those... Read More

Common Decking and Insulation Pesticide is a Honeybee Killer

Jim Vallette - January 21, 2016

At very low concentrations, a chemical widely used to kill termites also harms honeybees, according to a new US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study. [1] The use of this pesticide, imidacloprid, in building materials has soared in recent years. [2]  Manufacturers incorporate imidacloprid into exterior products like polystyrene insulation, vinyl siding, adhesives, sealants, and pressure-treated wood decking. Imidacloprid migrates from exterior building materials into water and soil. Bees also use sawdust to help build their hives. Beekeepers use treated wood for stands and treated insulation for nucs. But EPA's bee research on neonicotinoids like imidacloprid has ignored the potential contribution of these materials. Instead, the agency has approved an ever-expanding list of building products in which it may be used. Honeybee populations are plummeting. Nationwide, bee colony loss exceeded 40% between April 2014 and April... Read More

Making Buildings Healthier With Your Support

Bill Walsh - December 16, 2015

  Week after week, month after month, HBN has blown me away this year. You have picked up the pace and amazed me with the quality and scope of your efforts. HBN's contributions are magnificent. -Rus Perry, FAIA, LEED Fellow, Vice President and Co-director of Sustainable Design, SmithGroupJJR   With your help HBN is getting toxic chemicals out of building products. Last April, after reviewing HBN's research, the retail giant Home Depot agreed to stop selling vinyl flooring made with endocrine disrupting compounds. Just a few weeks ago, Kaiser Permanente cited HBN research in its decision to prohibit the use of 13 antimicrobials in building materials they specify. Your financial support helps make this happen! To cap off our 15th Anniversary year we are asking our supporters to make a $15 monthly pledge on our website, or a one-time gift of $150. Make your gift right now, so you don't forget! Donate... Read More

Perkins + Will, HBN, Unravel the Myth of “Clean Vinyl”

Melissa Coffin - November 18, 2015

Today, the global architecture firm Perkins+WIll released a white paper, What's New (and What's Not) With PVC, which explores the current state of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), written in partnership with the Healthy Building Network.  The vinyl industry has been on a new rebranding campaign: “clean-vinyl” [1] and “bio-vinyl” [2] are two examples of the trade names at the forefront of this campaign to position vinyl as a breakthrough and advanced green product. While some vinyl products have excluded problematic additives, these reformulations have not-and cannot-address the lifecycle hazards tied to PVC’s intrinsic chlorinated chemistry. The white paper concludes that the fundamental hazards inherent in the chemistry of the material cannot be resolved: PVC remains a plastic based on chlorine chemistry. It will always require vinyl chloride monomer; produce dioxins during synthesis, accidental fires during use and in landfill... Read More

Not LEEDership: Supply Chain Optimization Guidance Neutralized Under Chemical Industry Pressure

Tom Lent - November 12, 2015

When is a Supply Chain Optimization credit not a Supply Chain Optimization credit? Apparently when the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has a hand in writing the rules. The USGBC announced yesterday the results of its sprawling 11 month Supply Chain Optimization Working Group's efforts to provide guidance for LEED v4's product disclosure and optimization credit Option 3. In it one can clearly see the markings of a bitterly divided group. The outcome, however, is a clear win for the ACC, at least in the short term. Put simply, this "supply chain optimization" option doesn't require a manufacturer to report on the health and safety of their supply chain nor to demonstrate that they have done anything meaningful to improve it. It only requires a plan that promises a little bit better in the future and no accountability on that promise.  The intent of the LEED credit is to encourage selection of products whose composition is inventoried (the... Read More

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