This section provides basic context for understanding the role of certain substances of concern in the context of the building industry, and includes steps you can take to address a specific substance of concern on your project.
While there are many substances of concern connected with the building industry, the ones included here are a starting point. These are addressed in LEED rating systems, on Living Building Challenge Red List, or are occasionally discussed in the media as a focus of public concern.
Exposure to substances of concern occurs at various points in products’ life cycles. While some pose hazards to building occupants, many pose hazards to installers, manufacturers, raw material extractors and their communities. While exposure scenarios vary by substance, product type and manufacturer, these suggestions are mindful of human health at all life cycle points.
Building materials have indirect health impacts. Contaminants released in extraction, manufacturing, construction and demolition contribute to health and environmental concerns. Substances of concern can leach from products in landfills and enter the environment and food chain via ground water. People in many contexts are exposed at every step of the process.
People in the extraction and synthesis industries, and in surrounding communities, are at risk of exposure to substances of concern via inhalation, ingestion of contaminated drinking water and dermal contact.
People in the manufacturing industries and in surrounding communities are at risk of exposure to substances of concern via inhalation, ingestion of contaminated drinking water and dermal contact.
Building materials containing substances of concern are transported around the world. People in the construction industry are exposed to substances of concern via inhalation and dermal contact.
People in buildings are exposed to substances of concern via off-gassing and leaching into drinking water.
People in the demolition industry are exposed to substances of concern via inhalation and dermal contact.