skip to Main Content
1-800-987-654 contact@informinc.org

Please join us

Please join INFORM and a panel of green building experts for two free teleconferences designed to educate procurement, building and environmental professionals about products that contain persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs) and how to select cost-effective, environmentally preferable alternatives that meet or exceed performance specifications. This is an opportunity to learn and ask questions of environmental and procurement specialists and your peers without leaving your office!

The teleconferences, sponsored by INFORM are free to state, county and municipal organizations, including universities and colleges in the Great Lakes Region.

New Frontiers in Green Buildings:

Eliminating Toxic Substances from Building Materials and Supplies

Wednesday, February 16, 2005, 2:00 – 4:00 pm (EST)
Highly persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs), such as lead, mercury, cadmium and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous in building mechanical systems, lighting systems, finishes and supplies. There is no requirement that product manufacturers disclose what materials contain this dangerous class of toxins.

In addition to being highly toxic, PBTs linger in the environment and concentrate in the tissues of living organisms. As a result, these chemicals can cause serious damage to wildlife and the environment, even when released in very small quantities. PBTs are already causing problems for human health. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that close to 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the US have enough mercury in their bodies to put a fetus at risk, and recent research shows that levels of lead previously considered “safe” are associated with impaired neurological function.

Who Should Attend: State, county and municipal purchasers, building construction and maintenance personnel, environmental professionals.

How to register: Fill out the RSVP information on the right-hand side of this page and hit “Reply.” This will provide the information we need to get back to you. Once you’ve submitted your registration, we will send you by return email a registration confirmation, along with a toll-free teleconference phone number and a detailed agenda. You also will receive a web address through which you can access the presentations and other resources that will be referenced during the teleconference.

Workshop Content

A New Frontier in Green Building will address the general problem of PBTs in building, as well as issues and alternatives in several key areas:

Mercury Hazards

  • HVAC and mechanical equipment. Heating system controls can contain pounds of mercury. Cost-competitive, performance-equivalent mercury-free equipment for most applications is now available through all major manufacturers.

Vinyl Products

  • Many building products and interior finishes contain PVC, a/k/a vinyl. This type of plastic can expose human beings to toxins during both manufacture and use, and can release dioxins when burned following disposal. Attractive, performance-equivalent and cost-competitive alternatives to vinyl flooring, wall coverings, plumbing supplies, roofing, and exterior cladding materials are widely available.

Chemicals of Increasing Concern

  • Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), commonly used in furniture foam and plastic, and Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), used for its ability to resist dirt and shed water. The EPA acknowledges that evidence of rapidly increasing human exposure to BFRs and PFCs in the United States is cause for concern. Some of the most toxic forms of these compounds have already been phased out: However, many more are still used in products.

In the past, buildings were likely to contain pounds of mercury, lead, and other toxic substances, and there was little purchasing professionals could do to avoid them. Today, growing awareness of the dangers posed by such hazardous substances is motivating communities to seek out safer alternatives.

A new program, designed by INFORM, offers purchasing agents the opportunity to learn how to eliminate the use of building equipment and materials that contain persistent toxic chemicals in favor of cost-effective and less-toxic alternatives that meet performance specifications.

New Frontiers in Green Building will address:

  • Building materials, interior finishes and equipment that contain persistent, bioaccumulative toxins, or PBTs, a particularly dangerous class of hazardous substances;
  • Cost-effective, readily available alternatives that meet performance specifications; and,
  • Ways to specify PBT-free materials and equipment without sacrificing performance or energy efficiency.

The Issues

In addition to being highly toxic, PBTs linger in the environment and concentrate in the tissues of living organisms. As a result, these substances can cause serious damage to wildlife and the environment, even when PBTs are released in very small quantities.

PBTs are already causing human health problems. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that close to 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the US have enough mercury in their bodies to put a fetus at risk, and recent research shows that levels of lead previously considered “safe” are associated with impaired neurological function.

PBTs are ubiquitous in buildings. Mercury, lead, and other highly persistent and bioaccumulative toxins are frequently found in:

  • Building mechanical systems
  • Lighting systems
  • Interior finishes
  • Fabric finishes
  • Electronics

Building occupants risk exposure to PBTs. For example, items containing mercury, such as fluorescent tubes can break, exposing building occupants.

When building system components are replaced, those that contain PBTs must often be disposed of as hazardous waste. Handling hazardous waste is more costly than regular solid waste disposal.

Cost-effective, energy-efficient, performance-equivalent alternatives are available that are high in recycled content and low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). With better information on alternative products, comparative costs and benefits, the design community can contribute significantly to the worldwide effort to reduce human and animal exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Back To Top