Toxics Advocacy and Healthy Building Materials

1:30 pm, Room 210 - Action and Advocacy

Nancy Uding, Toxic-Free Future & Thor Peterson, Synthesis Consultants

Hazardous chemicals such as toxic flame retardants, cancer-causing stain- and water-resistant PFAS, and hormone-disrupting phthalates are all-too-common ingredients in everyday consumer products and building materials. These toxic chemicals migrate into indoor dust and air, exposing occupants to chemicals without their knowledge or consent. They also produce environmental contamination that threatens totemic local species including our Puget Sound salmon and orca. This session will start with a quick tour of chemicals of concern in common building materials and then present available, safer alternatives. We’ll then turn to advocacy methods key to removing chemical hazards from products. Toxic-Free Future, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization, has led Washington state to become a national leader in winning state policy and marketplace campaigns that restrict toxic chemicals of concern in consumer products. Working with partner organizations across the US, Toxic-Free Future leverages these wins for national impact. We will recap Washington’s groundbreaking success on toxics and outline Toxic-Free Future’s strategic approach and current priorities, examining how the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild can learn from and support the elimination of these chemical hazards in building materials.

Thor Peterson is owner of Synthesis Consultants, a green building and sustainable communities consultancy. With nearly 20 years of advocating for resource conservation and healthy built environments, Thor works to provide technical and strategic information to design and construction professionals, building owners and public sector organizations to effect beneficial change in the way we construct, operate and maintain our built environment. Thor holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus on environmental policy from the University of Washington.

Nancy Uding is Program Director with Toxic-Free Future. Toxic-Free Future wins policy and marketplace campaigns that protect the health of people and the environment from emerging toxic chemicals such as cancer causing water-and stain-resistant PFAS, toxic flame retardants, and hormone disrupting phthalates. Nancy is currently working with a national coalition to reduce exposure of children and pregnant women to phthalate-contaminated food, is working on a Seattle and King County Public Health collaborative project to increase awareness of lead exposure in historically underserved communities, and tracks data on chemicals reported to Washington state under the Children's Safe Products Act.