encouraging material health

in the last few years i have worked increasingly with clients with chemical sensitivities-- people for whom the built environment is often intolerable due to the toxicity of the substances in our material world.  they are, i think, the canaries for the rest of us.

i have just found an incredible resource-- compiled and published by perkins+will architects-- called the 'transparency lists'.  these are lists of all building products that contain harmful ingredients, an evaluation of those substances and their impact on human health, and a list of alternative products that are not considered harmful.

the work done by perkins + will to compile this list came from their belief in the rightness of 'the precautionary principle':

We believe existing environmental regulations and other decisions, particularly those based on risk assessment, have failed to protect adequately human health and the environment - the larger system of which humans are but a part.

We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new principles for conducting human activities are necessary.

While we realize that human activities may involve hazards, people must proceed more carefully than has been the case in recent history. Corporations, government entities, organizations, communities, scientists and other individuals must adopt a precautionary approach to all human endeavors.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

take a look at the list-- see what is actually in the walls, cabinets, and woodwork of your home.  think about how building products are affecting the people who are working with them, the environment of our planet, and the health of your family.

and then, just say NO.

one more way to occupy.


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