Study finds potentially harmful chemicals in building materials

Study finds potentially harmful chemicals in building materials

A report released April 21 says that building materials are common sources of PFAS.

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A study conducted by the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkley, California, has found that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including large fluoropolymers, are used in several common building materials.

The research found that PFAS are added to roofing materials, paints and coatings, sealants, caulks, adhesives, fabrics, glass and more. This is because PFAS provides functions such as weatherproofing; corrosion prevention; and resistance to stains, grease, and water.

However, PFAS can make their way into water, air, food and indoor dust during the manufacturing, use and disposal of these materials. Building construction and maintenance workers, as well as do-it-yourselfers, may be particularly at risk, the Green Science Policy Institute says. 

PFAS contamination has been associated with a wide range of serious health consequences, including certain cancers. Additionally, tile and grout spray-on waterproofing products containing PFAS have been implicated in several cases of acute lung damage, the institute says.

“It’s worrisome that PFAS may be wall-to-wall in our homes and offices,” says Tom Bruton, senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute. “But the good news is that safer alternatives already exist. This is a problem that architects, designers and manufacturers can solve.”