Red List Chemicals
Building materials can contain many different chemicals, yet only lead and asbestos are directly regulated to be excluded from our buildings. Builders may want to adopt the precautionary principle in the area of human health and chemicals in building materials: “where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent degradation”*
There are some chemicals, however, that do have full scientific certainty in regard to their effects on humans and the environment. The Living Building Challenge has created this Red List of chemicals that cannot be contained in any building attempting to meet the Challenge, and should be adopted by all builders:
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Principle 15. Declaration of Rio. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992. be part of a coherent moisture regulation strategy?
How is mold prevention integrated into the building design?
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Will the building be free from Red List chemicals?
Will the design team use the Precautionary Principle? (Described in sidebar,”Red List Chemicals,” page 29.)
Will you choose to avoid materials with chemicals that have questionable health effects?
Are there chemicals or allergens that are known to affect you or other building occupants or that you would prefer to avoid?
Will lifestyle choices support air quality targets?
Are use patterns (cleaning products, filter replacement,) consistent with air quality targets?
In the following home design, we will examine a variety of rating and labeling systems that can help to facilitate decisions that will impact indoor air quality.