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IMAGES AND DATA
“Diabetes, neurobehavioral and developm
cancer, reproductive health effects, and alter
function have all been associated with expos
dants,” the report reveals. Additionally, the P
cites research indicating that 31 flame retard
discovered in building and household produc
dust or air and 33 in people.
But aren’t flame retardants required by bu
don’t they save lives? Yes and no.
Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117), the de facto
dard in North America, has been applied to
since 1975, which requires products with fille
to withstand exposure to an open flame for
known as the Steiner Tunnel Test). As a resu
tile manufacturers have treated their produc
based flame retardants for years.
However, the Chicago Tribune exposed a m
with regard to the safety and effectiveness o
in 2012. The newspaper’s report revealed a d
by the tobacco and chemical industries to pr
flame retardants in spite of flawed research
evidence of their effectiveness. A month afte
appeared, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown
Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, H
and Thermal Insulation to revise TB117 for im
without the need for flame retardant chemic
new regulation – TB117-2013 – is now in effec
without the use of flame-retardant chemical
not ban them from use.
Thankfully, a number of alternative, petrole
are available on the market which effectively
of fire without the harmful effects on human
flame retardant alternatives, visit: transparen
Why Using HPDs Makes Sense
Facility executives have a greater responsibility than ever
before to understand the effects of the products they purchase
and install in commercial buildings.
“As we learn more about the health effects of the chemicals
that go into these products, we have to broaden our awareness,”
explains Suzanne Drake, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, Senior Interior
Designer, Associate at Perkins+Will. “In addition to durability
and performance, we also have to ask the questions, ‘What’s
in the stuff? What’s the likelihood of it impacting my client in
their day-to-day use of it? How does this affect the installer?
How does it affect the people who make it? How does it affect
the people who have to get rid of it when we’re done with it?’
We have to broaden what we’re looking at to encompass a
While the focus on material health may seem to add another
layer of complexity to the design and construction process,
what’s clear is that the industry has embarked on a journey to
the next frontier in sustainability.
“One thing is for sure, we have entered a new age of market
transparency, and it has changed the conversation about building materials for good,” writes Bill Walsh, founder and executive
director of the Healthy Building Network in a 2013 blog post.
“We are now having the right conversation about how to better understand the products we build with; how to make better,
more informed decisions; and how to catalyze the resources of
the building industry to promote the best environmental health
outcomes and societal well-being for all.”
Robert Nieminen is a contributing editor for BUILDINGS.