What Chemicals Lurk in Our Home’s Building Materials?

One company wants all building materials to have ingredient labels. Would you use them?

Have you ever looked at your maple cabinets and wondered what death-defying ingredients they contain?

Wonder no more. Perkins + Will architecture firm has created a database that links common construction materials to government warnings about the health-harming ingredients, including VOCs, building materials contain. The company also is spearheading a movement to plaster ingredient labels on common building products, like flooring and lumber.

Thinking of painting the family room? Paint contains chromium compounds that can trigger asthma.

Want to replace carpet with vinyl tile? Vinyl contains diisoheptyl phthalate, which has produced cancer in lab animals.

If Perkins + Wills has its way, all building materials someday will contain ingredient labels, like those on backs of cereal boxes.

Peter Syrett, an architect and a leader of this labeling movement, thinks consumers should know what health hazards lurk in the remodeling materials they buy.

“People make sophisticated choices every time they go grocery shopping. Or buy baby bottles or toys,” Syrett told the New York Times. “There’s no reason it can’t be the same with building products.”

Do you want to know what your carpet is made of? Would you read ingredient labels?