Fast Company recently reported on the potential comeback of one of the most infamous building materials of recent memory. Asbestos is now legally allowed back into U.S. manufacturing under a serious of loopholes by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Fast Company reported, on June 1, the EPA authorized a “SNUR” (Significant New Use Rule) that allowed the distribution of products containing asbestos on a case-by-case basis. According to Fast Company, the EPA's recently released report detailing its new framework for evaluating the risk of its top prioritized substances states that the agency will "no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water in its risk assessments." This news comes after the EPA reviewed its first batch of 10 chemicals under the 2016 amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires the agency to continually reevaluate hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals in lieu of removing them from the market or placing new restrictions on their use. The SNUR greenlights companies to use toxic chemicals like asbestos without consideration about how they will endanger people who are indirectly in contact with them. Asbestos was widely used in building insulation up until it was completely banned in most countries in the 1970s. The U.S. severely restricted its use without completely outlawing it. As Fast Company covered, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) revealed in April that asbestos-related deaths now total nearly 40,000 annually, with lung cancer and mesothelioma being the most common illnesses in association with the toxin. Healthy Building Network (HBN), an environmental advocacy group, told Fast Company that the fibrous material poses a major health risk for everyone exposed to it, including those who mine it, those who handle it in industrial facilities, as well as people near or inside renovation and construction projects where it’s being used. HBN’s Board President Bill Walsh said that the chlor-alkali industry is the only industry in the country that still uses asbestos, reportedly importing about 480 tons of the carcinogen each year from Russia and Brazil. Walsh pointed out to Fast Company that chlorine-based plastics are commonly found in building-product materials and that “virtually all” asbestos in the U.S. is used in the industrial process to make chlorine. This includes PVC and vinyl plastics, which is largely found in the creation of pipes, tiles, flooring, adhesives, paints, and roofing products. Though the EPA is now easing its regulations against integrating the harmful toxin and others like it under the Trump administration, it will largely be the responsibility of local and state governments, as well as companies and informed consumers to counter these new federal moves. Walsh told Fast Company it’s up to sustainable building-product manufacturers and ultimately, architects to pressure the market. “Architects really set the pace of design, in terms of aesthetics and materials that we like,” he told Fast Company. “If they start to incorporate health-based criteria into their palette, it could really have an influence on what the manufacturers produce.” Earlier last month, The Washington Post noted that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the ADAO had discovered a controversial post on Russian asbestos exporter Uralasbest’s Facebook page showing photos of company pallets stamped with a seal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s face. As The Post covered, Trump has long been vocal about his skepticism about the harmful effects of asbestos, claiming in his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback, that anti-asbestos efforts were “led by the mob.” The Post uncovered how in 2012, he tweeted that the World Trade Center might not have burned had the fire-retardant material not been removed from the towers. It’s estimated that 400 tons of asbestos fiber went into the structures before the developers stopped it from being used further in 1971. The EPA told The Washington Post it will conduct further studies on the first 10 chemicals under the amended TSCA and final risk evaluations will published in December 2019.
Posts tagged with "Building Products":
At the annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference on Architecture, more than 800 building product manufacturers revealed the latest products. For two days from July 21-23 architects explored booths, galleries, and displays set-up across 200,000-square-feet at the Javits Center. The newest materials and technological advancements debuted, including a selection of handsome architectural products, as well as not-so-sexy (but useful) building solutions. SF Special Hirt by Goldbrecht Systems Press a button for an entire glass wall to completely disappear, silently retracting into the ground. Unlike other operable walls that offer views that “bring the outside in,” this gigantic retractable “window” actually disappears from all sightlines–from views looking both in and out. This particular model is made-to-order at variable lengths, the largest to date being 66 feet long and weighing over 16,000 pounds. Dialock DT 750 Häfele Tap a key-card on this RFID-enabled fixture to easily lock and unlock the door, eliminating the swiping and magnetic complications of conventional swiping strip cards. It is also available with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) interface that enables smartphone-activated access. Attack Resistant Door Solutions Assa Abloy and School Guard Glass Hardware manufacturer Assa Abloy and safety glass manufacturer School Guard Glass partnered to design an attack-resistant door for schools. When paired together, the Ceco Door with SG5 attack-resistant glazing survive the most brutal blows and even gunshots (see the video above). Stronger and longer-lasting than a security film, the system is easy and affordable to retrofit to pre-existing openings for increased security. Malaysian Timber The Malaysian Timber Council Eleena Jamil Architect designed a four-walled enclosure fashioned entirely of Meranti timber to showcase the wherewithal and beauty of sustainably sourced hardwood from Southeast Asia. The modular structure promotes the material sourced by The Malaysian Timber Council, which strives to develop the country’s timber industry by creating greater market access and trade opportunities. 400T Series Thermal Curtainwall Tubelite Looking to get LEED gold? This thermally broken curtainwall is designed to meet the strictest energy codes. The expanded thermal break and thicker gasketing system reduces solar heat gain and condensation. Bowtie terracotta cladding Palagio Engineering Developed specially for the courtyard of a luxury high-rise in Manhattan, these ivory bowtie-shaped terracotta slabs reflect natural light to increase brightness to the center of the building. The glossy tiles are attached to an invisible anchoring system that creates a geometric, continuous cladding. MULTIFIX Rockwool Improve a building’s energy performance and efficiency with Rockwool’s hybrid stone-wool roofing insulation and coverboard. The flat roof weather barrier requires just one layer, making the entire assembly of a project easier and faster. And like all of the company’s products, the insulation is made of non-combustible material with a melting point of up to 2150°F—hot damn! AdvanTech Subfloor Adhesive Huber As an alternative to slower, more laborsome floor assembly, Huber’s polyurethane adhesive gel allows for quicker installation (a great solution for rising labor costs) on dry, wet, or frozen wood. It can also be used to fill in gaps in irregular surfaces. Cabrio Balcony Velux This skylight cleverly expands living spaces by folding out into an extended awning makeshift balcony. The metamorphic opening activates the otherwise hard-to-use space beneath a steeply angled ceiling. The design is more or less straightforward and mechanical, opening and closing without much effort, just like any window.
Protect building projects from the effects of Mother Nature with these powerful and long-lasting weather barriers, which provide air, water, wind, and thermal protection. SoftTouch Duct Wrap CertainTeed Sustainable Insulation Composed of both recycled and renewable content, this resilient fiberglass insulation reduces unwanted heat gain or loss in heating, ventilating, and air conditioning ductwork. It comes as either an unfaced blanket or with FSK, gray PSK, or white PSK vapor retarder facings. Topfix VMS Velux and Renson This motor-operated, wind- and weather-resistant sunscreen is compatible with both fixed and movable VELUX Modular Skylight modules. Topfix VMS minimizes glare and reflection, and it’s equipped with RENSON’s ZipShade technology, which offers fabric tension and wind resistance up to 75 mph. LIQUIDARMOR CM Flashing and Sealant Dow Chemical Company Designed to provide commercial buildings with moisture- and air-sealing protection, this sprayable, water-based coating covers and seals gaps as large as a quarter inch wide. It’s suitable for a range of surfaces, such as tapes, wood buck, and foam boards. R-Guard SureSpan EX PROSOCO A high-performance silicone material consumes both thermal movement and wind-loading stresses. It creates a long-lasting, flexible, and elastomeric seal that connects air and water barriers with building curtain walls, storefronts, or windows. DuPont Tyvek ThermaWrap R5.0 DuPont Providing air, water, and thermal protection, this breathable weather barrier is equipped with six-inch uninsulated fl aps that can be installed like shingles. Tyvek allows moisture inside building walls to dry quickly and escape to the exterior, reducing both water damage and mold build-up. DELTA-VENT SA Delta Featuring a three-ply membrane, this water-resistive and air barrier works hard to eliminate leaks at fasteners and increase air tightness. The top and bottom layers consist of spun-bonded polypropylene, while the center layer is made of a vapor-permeable, water-tight polymeric sheet.
The 14th annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo took place November 18–20 in Washington, D.C. This year’s expo featured the latest and greatest products and materials in sustainable design. Check out these cutting-edge green building products from the show. SageGlass Electrochromic Glass SageGlass Control interior sunlight and glare without affecting scenic views with SageGlass Electrochromic Glass. Equipped with electronic tinting and clearing capabilities, this dynamic glass is suitable for windows, skylights, and curtain walls. The glass also helps reduce energy consumption and building cooling loads. Deep Dive Kirei Kirei teamed up with Maine Heritage Timber to create Deep Dive, a collection of reclaimed timber that can be used for wallcoverings, ceilings, and millwork. Deep Dive is available in two specifications: Heritage Plank and Shadow Wood. The ½-inch-thick Heritage Plank comes in three widths, lengths that range from 1 to 4 inches, and both prefinished and unfinished options. Featuring a mix of thicknesses, Shadow Wood is available in three widths and lengths. TGI-Spacer M Technoform This durable and lightweight window spacer works hard to reduce unwanted drafts and condensation on the interior surface of window glass. TGI–Spacer M comes in a wide variety of size configurations and six neutral colorways—Black, Light Grey, Dark Grey, White, Champagne, and Bronze. Custom sizes and colors are also available. Topspin Draper Inc. Topspin is a retractable interior and exterior shading system comprised of a series of fabric panels and spring rollers. This system can be installed on horizontal, vertical, and sloped glazing, and it’s capable of withstanding wind speeds up to 38 mph. Topspin is available in widths up to 10 feet and lengths up to 40 feet. SkyScape Pregrown Modular System Firestone This 15-inch-by-20-inch vegetative roof system features a foundation comprised of 100 percent recycled high-density polypropylene and a durable honeycomb structure that allows plants to share moisture and nutrients. Each module weighs 50 lbs., features an interlock below grade on all four sides to withstand high winds, and manages stormwater through unitized moisture retention reservoirs. Autodesk Insight 360 Autodesk With the Autodesk Insight 360 software program, architects can easily access building energy and environmental performance data, such as whole building energy, heating, cooling, daylighting, and solar radiation simulations. The interactive software allows architects to create 3-D models with Revit and FormIt 360 Pro, giving them an inside look at real-time performance outcomes.