Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large class of thousands of chemicals that are found in a wide range of building products, including roofing, paints and coatings, sealants, caulks, adhesives, fabrics and more. PFAS provide desirable functions such as weatherproofing, corrosion prevention, lubrication, friction reduction, and grease and water resistance, but they don’t break down, and can bioaccumulate in the soil, water, and even in living things. Health studies of some PFAS show them to be hazardous to humans, with documented effects including kidney and testicular cancer, elevated cholesterol, liver disease, decreased fertility, and thyroid problems.
A recently released report, “Building a Better World: Eliminating Unnecessary PFAS in Building Materials” by researchers at the Green Science Policy Institute, provides an introduction to this class of chemicals, and shows they’re ubiquitous in products used in our sector. The good news is that work done by the AEC community over the last decade to drive the market toward healthier materials has resulted in a plethora of transparency labels and optimized products, so the transformation framework needed to accelerate the reduction of PFAS in building products is in place. Regulations, on both the state and federal level, are also under development, and when enacted, should provide a clear signal to manufacturers to eliminate PFAS in certain consumer products, and develop safer alternatives.
The goal of the session is to help all interested parties understand where PFAS might be found, develop strategies to eliminate them in their work, and illuminate the long term efforts needed to identify safer alternatives for use in buildings. In addition to presentations by experts, small group sessions will be used to ensure everyone has an opportunity to engage and increase their understanding.
Prior to the workshop: It is recommended participants review the Green Science Policy Institute Report on this page, as well as, the video on the hazards of PFAS.
This event is approved for the following continuing education credits:
Alternative Title: Addressing PFAS in the Built Environment for Public and Environmental Health