Today’s buildings can contain many different chemicals of concern. From lead poisoning to asthma, our building materials can impact our health as much as the food we eat, the water we drink, or the air we breathe. Most people think that chemicals used in building products are strictly regulated or tested for human health impacts, but that is not the case. In fact, it is difficult to get clear and reliable information about product ingredients. Unfortunately, low-income communities are often disproportionally exposed to these chemicals, resulting in various health implications.
Healthy Building Network has developed a national initiative, HomeFree, which supports affordable housing leaders in making informed material selections to reduce hazardous chemicals in building products. The program provides resources and research tools for affordable housing developers, operators, designers, and contractors to learn about healthier and cost competitive building material options. HomeFree includes affordable housing demonstration projects, healthy affordable materials workshops, a baseline data study, and website.
The goal of HomeFree is to improve human health through market transformation. The initiative provides a human health-based platform for the industry to advocate for transparency. We all need to ask questions about the products that are being specified and installed in affordable housing developments. Does the product contain chemicals of concern? Do you know the origin of the recycled content? Does the product contain antimicrobial additives? The design community is uniquely positioned to help push the building material industry towards healthier products by calling for disclosure of the answers to these questions and more. We hope you will join us on our HomeFree journey towards health equity. To learn more and access free resources, please visit the HomeFree site at https://homefree.healthybuilding.net/.
About the Author
Gina Ciganik is the CEO of Healthy Building Network, which was founded in 2000 to improve human and environmental health through reduced exposures to toxic chemicals in building materials. Gina can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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