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The Healthy Building Network

The scale of the building materials market is so large — more than three billion tons of materials per year — that its transformation to advance the best environmental, health and social practices could decrease, and even begin to reverse, some of the profound negative impacts of the contemporary building industry on the environment, human health and society.

The Healthy Building Network was founded in 2000 on the initiative of leaders from the national environmental health movement based on this belief. There are many examples of the opportunities for change in the building materials market. Until 2004, pressure-treated wood was the most common source or arsenic exposure to children and adults in the United States. Due to loopholes in waste disposal laws, arsenic leaching from the wood in landfills was (and remains) implicated in groundwater contamination. Another common building material, polyvinyl chloride plastic, also known as PVC or vinyl, is estimated to be the single largest material source of dioxin to the global environment over the course of its life cycle, production, use and disposal. Substituting cost-effective, healthier building materials for these products is the single most effective step we can take to preserve and regenerate our environment, and to protect public health.

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