Why should we pay attention to construction materials being use?

Throughout history society has made several costly experiences from construction materials that turned out to contain hazardous substances. Asbestos and PCB are the most well-known. The fact that construction materials often are expected to have long life-times makes it crucial to make the best possible assessments of chemical risks associated with them prior to including them in a building. When we also consider that most of us spend 80-90 % of our time in-doors, the potential risks for human health associated with hazardous substances in interior construction materials is obvious. Exterior materials on the other hand have been shown to be major sources to the aquatic environment for a number of hazardous substances.

Substances used in construction materials that have been shown to be related to detrimental effects on human health and/or the environment include phthalates, brominated flame retardants, copper and zinc, an many more.

Municipalities often build dwelling-houses, schools and administrative buildings as well as roads and bridges. When doing this, requirements can be placed on the chemical composition of the materials used, and that builders and contractors should have the adequate knowledge to make the necessary decisions for making sure the chemical risks related to building materials are minimized.

Since knowledge about hazardous substances is constantly evolving it may well be that the risk assessments of substances in construction materials tomorrow will be different than today. If risks are identified with a material that has been used it is beneficial to know where the material was used. The construction industry is therefore developing tools for recording what materials are included in buildings – construction log books.