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Book review: Building Materials: Product Emission and Combustion Health Hazards, by Kathleen Hess-Kosa, available from CRC Press at the end of February 2017. ISBN 9781498714938
Major topic areas include: Polymers in Construction. Molded and Extruded Plastics. Foam. Rubber. Plasticizers. Plastic Stabilizers, Pigments, and Fire Retardants.
Functional Building Materials. Rough-in and Dry-in Construction Components. Interior Construction Components. Finish-out Construction Components. Surface Applications, Glues, and Mortar. Natural Materials. Engineered Composite Materials. Recycled Materials.
Product Emissions and Green Buildings. Product Emission Testing. Green Building Requirements. Glossary. Appendices.
[Contents excerpted from publisher's website -Ed.]
A New Guide to Building Material Emissions & Combustion Product Health Hazards
In “The Graduate” McGuire says to Benjamin “I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics.”
In the U.S. more than 85,000 industrial chemicals are assumed to be safe until proven dangerous - the opposite of E.U. policy, and a policy good for short term corporate health though bad for long term public health.
Few of these chemicals have been studied by independent experts. The U.S. EPA has banned the use of just 5 of these 85,000 chemicals. Companies and consumers wanting to know if the products they use are safe are on their own.
Hess-Kosa’s book provides a critical map to that wilderness, a searchlight of clear, expert information that guides the reader through natural and synthetic building materials, their uses, properties, emissions, and risks.
Consumers have recently worried about emissions from some building materials that include formaldehyde, off gassing Chinese drywall, laminate flooring, and vinyl window odors.
Not all smells are dangerous, and not all dangerous materials smell. Some building products look good, but fail early, or allow leaks exposing building occupants mold or sewage contamination. Others offer up, as Hess-Kosa notes, a brew of organic toxins, silent killers, toxic metals, or more subtle hazards.
For a sensitive organism such as a developing embryo, exposure to even a single molecule of a hormone-mimicking chemical can cause severe birth defects - androgynous ducks may be the least of it.
Toxins in plastics themselves or other toxins absorbed and concentrated by them are directly linked to cancers, birth defects, immune system defects, childhood development issues, hormone disruption: real and serious effects that point to a mismatch between the benefits of plastic products and human health.
Harmful in buildings and later in the landfill or dumped into the ocean, some apparently-innocent plastics and other materials are so persistent in the environment that they enter the food chain, passing up from tiny creatures into the food that we eat.
This book is heir to Rachel Carlson (Silent Spring) and Theo Colborn (Our Stolen Future) but with a new turn: from building foundation to chimney top the author describes hundreds of classes and specific building materials, explaining their potential hazards.
Everyone who builds, renovates, enters, works in or lives in buildings, as well as anyone who studies the safety of the building environment will find this work invaluable.
Hess-Kosa, Kathleen. EH&S Auditing Made Simple, Government Institutes; 2 edition (September 1, 2000), ISBN-10: 0865877017
Disclosure & Discount Coupon for This Book
The author of the book I review here, Kathleen Hess-Kosa, has worked as certified industrial hygienist since 1983, and is the CEO of of Omega Environmental Consulting, Inc., a Texas environmental consulting firm. She is an admired personal acquaintance whom I met through our joint service on the Indoor Environment Committee of AIHA, the American Industrial Hygiene Association. We share a common interest in approaches to the testing, diagnosis, and remedy of indoor environment or indoor air quality problems that place a high value on the combination of sound science, good practices, common sense, and high ethical standards.
The 20% coupon shown here loads a PDF from CRC Press offering a discount for people who order this book online.
InspectAPedia is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information provided free to the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.
The author of this review, Daniel Friedman, currently editor of InspectApedia.com, has worked as computer design engineer, builder, building inspector, and environmental inspection and test consultant
in several countries. He researches and writes on the indoor environment, building failures and construction methods.
Source citations & examples of pertinent research supporting the opinions of the reviewer
Andersson, M. A., M. Nikulin, U. Köljalg, M. C. Andersson, F. Rainey, K. Reijula, E. L. Hintikka, and M. Salkinoja-Salonen. "Bacteria, molds, and toxins in water-damaged building materials." Applied and Environmental Microbiology 63, no. 2 (1997): 387-393.
Arizona State University, “Impact of plastics on human health and ecosystems”, 20 March 2010, citing Rolf Walden, ASU, http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100320/Impact-of-plastics-on-human-health-and-ecosystems.aspx
Andrews, Gianna, “Plastics in the Ocean Affecting Human Health”, Montana State University & Carelton College, http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/plastics.html
Babrauskas, Vytenis, and Richard D. Peacock. "Heat release rate: the single most important variable in fire hazard." Fire safety journal 18, no. 3 (1992): 255-272
Carson, Rachel, Silent Spring, [book for sale at Amazon] Mariner Books; Anv edition (October 22, 2002), ISBN-13: 978-061824906.
Amazon.com Review: Silent Spring, released in 1962, offered the first shattering look at widespread ecological degradation and touched off an environmental awareness that still exists. Rachel Carson's book focused on the poisons from insecticides, weed killers, and other common products as well as the use of sprays in agriculture, a practice that led to dangerous chemicals to the food source. Carson argued that those chemicals were more dangerous than radiation and that for the first time in history, humans were exposed to chemicals that stayed in their systems from birth to death. Presented with thorough documentation, the book opened more than a few eyes about the dangers of the modern world and stands today as a landmark work.
Clemons, Craig. "Wood-plastic composites in the United States: The interfacing of two industries." Forest Products Journal 52, no. 6 (2002): 10.
Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, John Peter Meyers., Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?--A Scientific Detective Story, [book for sale at Amazon], Plume-Penguin Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-452-27414-1., ISBN13: 9780452274143. This book is a seminal work on endocrine disrupters (chemical contaminants having impact at extremely low levels in the environment).
Colburn, Theo, re: Endocrine Disrupter Exchange [http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/home.php], Dr. theo Colborn From that website: The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc. is the only organization that focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dose and/or ambient exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function, called endocrine disrupters ... TEDX's work focuses on the endocrine system, which is the exquisitely balanced system of glands and hormones that regulates such vital functions as body growth, response to stress, sexual development and behavior, production and utilization of insulin, rate of metabolism, intelligence and behavior. Hormones are chemicals such as insulin, thyroxin, estrogen, and testosterone that interact with specific target cells. The interactions occur through a number of mechanisms, the easiest of which to conceptualize is through a lock and key arrangement.
Crews, David. "Temperature-dependent sex determination: the interplay of steroid hormones and temperature." Zoological science 13, no. 1 (1996): 1-13.
Dyer, Robert F., and Victor H. Esch. "Polyvinyl chloride toxicity in fires: hydrogen chloride toxicity in fire fighters." JAMA 235, no. 4 (1976): 393-397.
Howard, Clare, "Special Report: Syngenta's campaign to protect atrazine, discredit critics", Environmental Health News, 17 June 2013, Editor in Chief Marla Cone - email@example.com, retrieved 3/25/14, original source: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2013/atrazine
Jaakkola, J. J., Pia K. Verkasalo, and Niina Jaakkola. "Plastic wall materials in the home and respiratory health in young children." American Journal of Public Health 90, no. 5 (2000): 797.
Mølhave, Lars. "Indoor air pollution due to organic gases and vapours of solvents in building materials." Environment International 8, no. 1-6 (1982): 117-127.
Pacheco-Torgal, Fernando, Said Jalali, and Aleksandra Fucic, eds. Toxicity of building materials. Elsevier, 2012.
Seltenrich, Nate. "New link in the food chain? Marine plastic pollution and seafood safety." Environmental health perspectives 123, no. 2 (2015): A34-A41.
Urbina, Ian, “Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested?”, The New York Times, 13 April 2013 [Number of chemicals banned by the US EPA]
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Analysis of Modern Paints, Thomas J.S. Learner, Research in Conservation, 2004 ISBN 0-89236-779-2 [Chemistry of modern paints, overview of analytical methods, pyrolysis-gas chromatography signatures of basic modern paints and their constituents, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy for paint analysis, direct temperature-resolved mass spectrometry, and analysis in practice - technical reference useful for forensic paint science, focused on art works -DF]
Understanding Ventilation, John Bower, The Healthy House Institute, ISBN 0-9637156-5-8, 1995 [General building science-DF - ** Particularly useful text. Mr. Bower has retired from the field but his book continues to be important]
Certainteed Weatherboard fiber cement siding and trim products - see certainteed.com/ or see certainteed.com/resources/sidingandtrimspecsheet.pdf
"Moisture Control in buildings: Putting Building Science in Green Building," Alex Wilson, Environmental Building News, Vol. 12. No. 5. [Good tutorial, "Moisture 101" outlining the physics of moisture movement in buildings and a good but incomplete list of general suggestions for moisture control - inadequate attention given to exterior conditions such as roof and surface drainage defects which are among the most-common sources of building moisture and water entry.--DJF]
Paint Handbook: testing, selection, application, troubleshooting, surface preparation, etc., Guy E. Weismantel, Ed., McGraw Hill Book Company, 1981, ISBN-10: 0070690618, ISBN-13: 978-0070690615, [Excellent but a bit obsolete paint theory and practice, also a bit light on field investigation methods, out of print, available used-DF] How to select and apply the right paint or coating for any surface. The first major reference to help you choose the correct paint or other finish to do the job best on a particular surface exposed to a particular environment. Experts in the field give full advice on testing surface preparation, application, corrosion prevention, and troubleshooting. The handbook covers wood, metal, composites, and masonry, as well as marine applications and roof coatings. A ``must'' working tool for contractors, architects, engineers, specification writers, and paint dealers.
Paint and Surface Coatings, Theory and Practice, R. Lambourne & T.A. Strivens, Ed., Woodhead Publishing Ltd., William Andrew Publishing, 1999 ISBN 1-85573-348 X & 1-884207-73-1 [This is perhaps the leading reference on modern paints and coatings, but is a difficult text to obtain, and is a bit short on field investigation methods - DF] Provides a comprehensive reference source for all those in the paint industry, paint manufacturers and raw materials suppliers, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and industrial paint users. R. Lambourne was in the Research Department at ICI Paints Division and the Industrial Colloid Advisory Group, Birstol University, UK.
Seeing Through Paintings, Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies, Andrea Kirsh, Rustin S. Levenson, Materials in Fine Arts, 2000 ISBN 99-051835 [ forensic science, technical reference, focused on art works - DF]
Sealants, Durability of Building Sealants (RILEM Proceedings), J.C. Beech, A.T. Wolf, Spon Press; illustrated edition (1995), ISBN-10: 0419210709, ISBN-13: 978-0419210702 This book presents the papers given at the RILEM Seminar held at the Building Research Establishment, Garston, UK in October 1994. The book provides an opportunity for researchers to review up-to-date progress towards the achievement of the objectives of the standardisation of laboratory techniques of sealants in the variety of service conditions to which they are exposed.
Soiling and Cleaning of Building Facades (RILEM Report), L.G.W. Verhoef (Editor), Routledge; 1 edition (November 3, 1988), ISBN-10: 0412306700, USBN-13: 978-0412306709 The report of a comprehensive investigation by RILEM which examines all aspects of the cleaning of facades, subject to soiling by both biological and non-biological agencies. The contributors are international authorities working in this field giving essential advice to all those who need to know how to approach the problems connected with the soiling and cleaning of building facades.
Staining, Prevention of Premature Staining in New buildings, Phil Parnham, Taylor & Francis; 1996, ISBN-10: 0419171304, ISBN-13: 978-0419171300 The appearance of ugly staining early in a buildings life, ruins an otherwise pleasing appearance, tarnishes the image of the owners and gives rise to costly refurbishment works. In this book Phil Parnham raises a number of questions that should be considered whenever a new building is being designed or built. These are: * why has staining become so prominent; * what causes premature staining; which parts of new buildings are likely to be affected; * how can it be avoided? By using a number of highly illustrated case studies, the author answers these questions and ends by suggesting measures that should be taken by all design and construction professionals to prevent premature staining.
"Weather-Resistive Barriers [copy on file as /interiors/Weather_Resistant_Barriers_DOE.pdf ] - ", how to select and install housewrap and other types of weather resistive barriers, U.S. DOE
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