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Building Materials

Reducing chemicals of concern in the built environment

PFAS in Building Materials

The building industry uses large volumes of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These “forever chemicals” are found in a wide variety of building products, from flooring to roofing and from exterior coatings to interior finishes. We are conducting research on PFAS use in the built environment and collaborating with partners in the building industry to identify non-PFAS alternatives. Learn more about this project on our PFAS in Building Materials page.


All foam plastic insulation sold in the U.S. contains flame retardants to meet building code specifications. This is one of the leading uses of flame retardants, most of which are harmful to health and do not provide a fire safety benefit. In 2019, the California Building Standards Commission voted unanimously to update the state’s building codes to allow below-grade use of foam plastic building insulation without flame retardants, similar to other European countries. Learn more about this project and our ongoing work on our Insulation page.