Toxic Chemicals from Buildings: Are They Making Us Sick?

Dec 11, 2013, 13:00 ET from Healthy Building Network

New Report  on Chemicals, Asthma and Building Materials

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Why do nearly 1 in 10 children in the U.S. have asthma, along with over 18 million adults? There may be many factors, but according to a new report, Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection,  by Healthy Building Network (HBN), some building materials introduce asthma-causing chemicals into indoor environments. The HBN report says that building occupants can be exposed to 20 asthmagens commonly found in products such as  stain resistant carpets and phthalate-laden vinyl flooring. The chemicals have also been found in some children's school supplies.

"According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 20% of all Black children and 15% of all Latino children have been diagnosed with asthma," says Michele Roberts from the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance. "Children of color are disproportionately exposed to chemicals generally, and now we know that chemicals commonly found in polyvinyl chloride (PVC)  flooring and in stain resistant carpets can be triggers to cause asthma in these kids. Asthma prevents youth and adults from being able to lead healthy lives, impacts their ability to go to school and work, and thus contributes to rising rates of poverty. Exposure to asthmagen chemicals is preventable, and we need measures in place to halt exposure to those children who are most impacted."

"Mike Schade, with the National Work Group for Safe Markets and Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) adds, "Children coming into contact with phthalate-laden vinyl flooring have been found to have a higher risk of developing asthma, the #1 cause of school absenteeism and a leading cause of hospitalization for children nationwide.  Phthalates are so toxic they are banned in children's toys, yet are widespread in vinyl flooring and other building materials in schools.  These toxic chemicals linked to asthma have no place in our schools.  NYC schools can lead the nation by eliminating these unnecessary harmful chemicals, especially as safer cost-effective alternatives are available."

Molly Rauch with Mom's Clean Air Force says, "Parents who have watched their asthmatic children struggle to breathe know how important it is to limit dangerous chemicals in the air. It is heartbreaking to learn how many known asthma triggers are commonly found in building materials. As parents, we do what we can to protect our children. But when our federal laws allow asthma triggers in our homes and schools, we know we are dealing with a broken system."

"No small business owner wants to have a workplace that threatens their own health and that of their employees and customers especially females of childbearing age," adds Frank Knapp with the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and American Sustainable Business Council.

Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection  is available at Healthy Building Network.

For more info on chemicals and environmental health, check out these Coming Clean sites:

SOURCE Healthy Building Network