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All cancers start because cells with damaged DNA multiply out of control. People can inherit abnormal DNA, but most often DNA damage is caused by during normal cell reproduction or environmental like cigarette smoke, overexposure to sunlight or carcinogens (cancer-causing toxins). Though the exact factors that lead to an individual’s cancer are rarely known, much is known about the carcinogenicity of certain substances of concern.


Known and suspected carcinogens which are relevant to the building industry are numerous and include dioxins, fine fibers and particles, hexavalent chromium, halogenated flame retardants and PFCs.


More information: American Cancer Society


What Can I Do On My Project?


Set tight goals for electricity use.
Cadmium, mercury, lead and particulates are released when coal is burned, so each kilowatt hour saved is a reduction in emissions which are hazardous to human health.


Request Health Product Declarations (HPD) from product vendors and manufacturers.
An HPD identifies health hazards associated with product ingredients.


Ask product reps about PVC-free options.
Many manufacturers offer PVC-free alternatives to exterior components, interior finishes, piping, conduit, electrical cable and wire jacketing.


Specify Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)-compliant controls, wire, cable, electronic and electrical equipment, including lighting fixtures.
The European RoHS restricts the use of six hazardous materials (including mercury, lead, and cadmium) in the manufacture of electronic and electrical equipment.


Ask insulation, furniture and fabric product manufacturers about Halogenated Flame Retardants.
Ask whether their products comply with relevant regulations by using a minimum amount of flame retardants and avoiding the most toxic flame retardants.


Ask textile and carpet manufacturers whether their products contain long-chain PFCs for stain or water repellence.
Note: some long-chain PFC abbreviations to avoid include PFOA, PFAS, PFAC, PFHxS and PFOS.


Ask product representatives about metal, leather and pigment options which do not involve hexavalent chromium in the production process.
Some manufacturers offer chrome-free metal finishes, and some leather producers use tanning methods which eliminate the hexavalent chromium byproduct.


Consider selecting furniture without chrome plated components, and ask product representatives about hexavalent chromium-free plating options.


Ask plumbing fitting representatives about hexavalent chromium-free plating options.


Specify stainless steel or galvanized finishes in lieu of cadmium coatings for fittings and other hardware materials.

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