The next time you buy a new home, consider waiting a few weeks before moving in.
Many of the chemicals in home building materials may be unhealthy, such as the scent of new carpets, newly hung dry walls, and the whitish scent of recently refurbished floors.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have identified 55 of concern chemicals found in the walls, floors, ceilings, and furniture of homes across the United States. This includes those with a concentration of 1,000 times the recommended concentration.
Among the worst criminals is formaldehyde, which is often found in wooden furniture, base cabinets, wood, cork and bamboo flooring. Formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen and is also associated with leukemia.
Researchers have also found that the actual content of butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), an antioxidant found in carpet floors, is 800 times higher than the recommended value. In addition, the content of hexamethylene diisocyanate contained in the carpet was several thousand times the recommended maximum content of 0.2 ppm. According to the EPA, hexamethylene diisocyanate is very irritating to the eyes, nose and throat, and chronic long-term exposure to hexamethylene diisocyanate can cause lung problems.
Researchers say they hope the findings will provide practitioners and manufacturers with actionable information to develop more sustainable products and raise consumer awareness.
“People spend more than 90% of their time in buildings, inhaling and touching the chemicals in building materials, so knowing if there are any harmful chemicals that could affect your health. Is very important, “said Ray Huang, the lead author of the study. Research Specialist, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Faculty of Public Health, UM.
Evaluate potential exposure to the human body and risk, Researchers have screened over 500 unique ones Chemistry-Product combinations from chemical composition data reported in the PharosProject database. A risk assessment approach was then used to determine the amount of chemicals used in the manufacture of the product, the corresponding exposure to the human body, and the risk of the chemicals associated with cancer and non-cancer. Finally, they listed the least concerned chemicals from the least concerned chemicals by “hazard content”.
Researchers acknowledge that there are some limitations as a high-throughput screening that covers a large number of compounds (for example, exposure rates can vary significantly), but this study shows chemicals in building materials. It clearly demonstrates the need for future research on exposure to. The need for further regulation to ensure the safety of chemicals in general products, especially building products.
“These results show that the combination of a significant number of chemicals used in building materials poses a risk to human residents,” said a professor of environmental health sciences at UM’s School of Public Health. Senior author Olivier Joliet said. “We need to get rid of some of these compounds, which can be as high as 1,000 times higher.”
“We usually use 30,000 of these Compound Every day, we have pretty good data for 2,000 of them. Therefore, even if a chemical needs to be phased out, little is known about what is being used to replace it. Is it really good or worse? “He said. tool To allow manufacturers to evaluate and confirm various alternatives. “
Jolie was concerned about the levels of formaldehyde in the building and said it was still commonly used, even at low levels, despite the well-known carcinogenic effects. He said the substance is highly volatile, so allowing new structures to be ventilated in the air could probably significantly reduce its concentration.
Mr. Huang from China said the United States lags behind other countries in regulation and consumer perception of the dangers of certain chemicals in building materials.
“In China, we are very aware of these harmful chemicals,” she said. “When they buy a home, people wait three or four months to move. In the United States, people don’t care about it, and in fact the United States is less regulated than Europe.”
This study, conducted in close collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and the United Nations, is part of a project under the United Nations on “Global Best Practices on New Chemical Policy Issues of Concern.”
Lei Huang et al, Chemicals of Concern in Building Materials: High Throughput Screening, Dangerous Goods Journal (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.jhazmat.2021.127574
University of Michigan
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