Beware of the Red List – Top Materials to Avoid in Your Home

Beware of the Red List – Top Materials to Avoid in Your Home

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“The Red List” would possibly sound like one thing from the Cold War. But the Red List has nothing to do with politics, and the whole lot to do with chemistry. The Red List is definitely an inventory of “worst in school” supplies, chemical compounds, and components the inexperienced constructing business tries to avoid. And even in case you are not a development skilled, understanding about these supplies and which merchandise are made out of them can assist you make your own home and your own home enchancment tasks safer and extra sustainable.

The Red List

The Red List is generated by the International Living Future Institute as part of the Living Building Challenge, a certification system that requires buildings to attain web positivity for power, water, and waste. Updated yearly, the LBC Red List encourages builders to keep away from the worst supplies and chemical compounds utilized in development. Eliminating all of them fully from house development might not even be potential at the moment. But the listing gives a goal for enchancment. For owners, the listing can inform remodeling projects and assist information you to safer family merchandise. Learn extra with this simplified model of the Red List.


Asbestos is a mineral that has been utilized in 1000’s of merchandise, particularly from the Thirties to the Seventies, most famously in popcorn ceilings. The U.S. banned asbestos in 1991, however the ban was overturned and it will possibly nonetheless be found in products from insulation to vinyl tiles. The tiny fibers of asbestos can simply be inhaled and trigger mesothelioma and different ailments. Protective gear is required when working round asbestos. It ought to be disposed of as hazardous waste.


Cadmium is a heavy metallic associated with flu-like signs from acute publicity and most cancers, kidney, bone, and lung illness from power publicity. Nevertheless, cadmium will be present in cookware, home electronics, and naturally batteries. Cadmium can be utilized in pigments that may result in publicity via chipping paint or paint mud created throughout development.

Chlorinated Polyethylene & Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene

Chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) is an affordable variation of polyethylene plastic, however with a chlorine content material of roughly one-third. Like common polyethylene, it’s versatile, used for wire and cable jacketing, roofing, hoses and tubing, and extra.

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE) is the bottom polymer for artificial rubbers. Sold beneath the model title Hypalon it was generally used for the insulation of wire and cable jacketing. It was discontinued in 2009 on account of manufacturing questions of safety, lead content material, and the extremely poisonous fumes it releases when burned.

CPE and CSPE are persistent natural pollutant supply supplies and contribute to the creation of dioxins and furans at completely different factors of their life cycle.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Although CFCs have been banned in 1987, the hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that changed them are still in use in aerosols, fridges, and air conditioners. HFCs should not as unhealthy for the ozone layer as CFCs, however each long-lived teams of chemical compounds are nonetheless highly effective greenhouse gases. Other nations have agreed to phase out HFCs.


Chloroprene is used to make neoprene, the fabric greatest identified for its use in wetsuits and fishing waders, however it’s also used to waterproof roofing and to seal home windows. While neoprene is chemically inert, chloroprene is a carcinogen that may be inhaled and might enter the physique via the pores and skin. It is a persistent natural pollutant supply materials that contributes to the creation of dioxins and furans at completely different factors in its life cycle, corresponding to its manufacture in Louisiana’s cancer alley.

Couple looks at plans for home renovation with worker
Familiarity with the LBC Red List can assist you make sure that your reworking mission is safer and extra sustainable.


Formaldehyde is a VOC and identified human carcinogen related to nasal cancers and leukemia. It additionally acts as an bronchial asthma set off and pores and skin irritant. It will be present in insulation and manufactured building products like composite counter tops, particleboard, and laminates. It’s additionally in family merchandise like mattresses and fabric, in addition to glues, paints, caulks, and extra.

Halogenated Flame Retardants

Halogenated fireplace retardants (HFRs) are persistent, bioaccumulative toxins with antagonistic results on neurological growth and copy. They may cause thyroid hormone disruption and potential liver toxicity. When burnt, they launch dioxins and furans. They will be present in insulation, foam, electronics, and fabric — together with in youngsters’s car seats. While sure HFRs are banned, in some instances, they could be needed to fulfill authorized fireplace security requirements.


In the previous, lead was added to gasoline and to color, which might still be present in older houses. Homes constructed earlier than 1986 usually tend to have lead pipes, fixtures, and solder, which might enter ingesting water. A poisonous heavy metallic, lead publicity damages each organ and system within the human physique, particularly the mind and central nervous system. Impacts are most profound for the younger.


Yet one other extremely poisonous heavy metallic, mercury is a bioaccumulative substance that harms the nervous, digestive, and immune methods, and might even trigger loss of life at frighteningly low ranges of publicity. Nevertheless, it will possibly nonetheless be present in household items from lightbulbs to thermostats that have to be disposed of fastidiously to avoid spills.


Phthalates are practically ubiquitous within the U.S. inhabitants, with the best concentrations in youngsters aged 6-11 and in girls. The National Research Council has urged the EPA to pursue a “cumulative danger evaluation” of those chemical compounds, which have carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting potential. In construction, phthalates are primarily used to make PVC or vinyl extra versatile, pliant, and sturdy to be used in roofing, adhesives and sealants, flooring, and wall coverings.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Vinyl chloride, a constructing block of PVC and different chlorinated polymers, is a identified human carcinogen. PVC is a persistent natural pollutant supply materials that usually accommodates different Red List substances corresponding to heavy metals and phthalates. Its manufacture and disposal can lead to the manufacturing of bioaccumulative dioxins. Best often called a fabric for siding, PVC is the most-used plastic for constructing merchandise. It will be present in pipes and fittings, flooring, window and door profiles, and roof membranes.

Wood Treatments Containing Creosote, Arsenic, or Pentachlorophenol

The traits that make typical wooden therapies efficient towards rot and bug harm additionally make them poisonous. Studies affiliate creosote publicity with sure cancers in people, and liver, kidney, and gestational issues in laboratory animals. Inorganic arsenic is just not solely an acute toxin; it’s a identified human carcinogen. Studies hyperlink pentachlorophenol to liver and immune system harm in people, and reproductive and thyroid harm in laboratory animals. Treated lumber is used most often in out of doors tasks, however can be utilized wherever wooden may get moist, corresponding to when posts are buried within the floor.