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Environment

Defining ‘Green’ Buildings

February 2, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 5

Correction

■ Jan. 12, page 44: The photo was taken by Carway Communications.

“HIGH-PERFORMANCE BUILDINGS” ignores what the term “green” implies: A green design should also be a healthy design (C&EN, Nov. 17, 2008, page 15). A healthy design does not use materials like polyurethane insulation, isocyanates, polyols, fire-retardants, coatings, or adhesives, unless such buildings wish to contribute to the national incidence of cancer and debilitation from low-level chemical exposures.

Look at the cancer rate and the proportion of the population with disability caused by lifetime exposures to the chemical soup we live in. For example, look at the risk calculations and resulting numbers of cancer incidences and other health conditions related to formaldehyde emissions and resulting exposures in new homes—McMansions that cost a lot and are so beautiful. They also cause disease and death. Add in a few isocyanates and other sensitizers and there is a real witch’s brew for the unsuspecting public.

Isn’t it too bad that industry leaves one mess and moves on to the next? I hope the public will be smarter and not buy these chemical-laden homes. Energy efficiency should not have a definable cost in terms of cancer and other chemical-exposure-related disability. If nothing else, throw out toxics, build smaller, have less, and enjoy life and excellent health. The era of “Better Living through Chemistry” is over. Don’t support this type of harmful “green” nonsense.

C. Bass
Alexandria, Va.

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