Status: In progress
The problem: For improved energy efficiency, the use of insulation materials such as polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane is increasing in buildings, especially “green” buildings. Building codes specify performance tests for these materials that lead to the inclusion of flame retardant chemicals that are either known to be toxic or lack adequate health information.
Visit the Safer Insulation Solution website to learn about our project to improve building codes for foam plastic insulation
The major flame retardants used in building insulation have been associated with neurological and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, and potential carcinogenicity.
Stage 1: Collaboration with Scientists
The Green Science Policy Institute is working with a team of green architects, builders, planners, chemists, and the Healthy Building Network to promote alternatives to flame retardants in building insulation and to include reduction of toxics in assigning LEED points. Additional plans include developing and distributing educational materials, researching chemicals used in building materials, and measuring chemical levels in air and house dust.
Stage 2: Publications, Presentations, and White Papers
Read the peer-reviewed paper by members of the Safer Insulation Solution team, published in Building Research & Information:
Dr. Blum was a Master Speaker at Greenbuild 2010
Master Speaker Video from Greenbuild, November, 2010
(Lecture starts at 8:35, slides to accompany video are below)
Greenbuild Slide Presentation - Blum: On the toxicity of flame retardants in buildings and what to do about it
Stage 3: Communication of Findings to the Public and Decision-Makers
We have prepared the following fact sheets that we have distributed to staff and members of the USGBC and the green building community:
Policy Outcomes to Date:
GSP's work to reduce toxics in buildings has contributed to Pilot Credit 11: Chemical Avoidance In Building Materials which will give a LEED credit for not using halogenated flame retardants and phthalates inside buildings.
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Mobilizing scientists, industry, government and consumers to reduce toxics