Making Healthy Choices

Family looking at child

Striving to provide healthier, safer and more sustainable homes for everyone means making good product and material choices—products that not only perform their function, but also don’t harm the individuals constructing, living, working, learning and playing in those buildings.

It is important to know what products, materials or components are red flags so that you are better able to make good, informed choices. Each section in the harmful chemicals pages looks at a specific sector, the product types and details on potential hazardous chemicals.

GETTING THE FACTS ON HARMFUL CHEMICALS

More information on the chemicals can be found on chemical fact sheets that are linked to the first mention of that chemical. These fact sheets describe the chemical’s function and show in color-coded icons the health impacts that may occur—both in the short and the long term.

An acute, or short-term, health effect occurs when symptoms develop rapidly after exposure to a substance, such as a cough. For some, exposure to specific chemicals may result in effects that are minimal or are readily alleviated. However, for those that are pre-disposed or sensitized to these triggers, the effects can be quite harmful, severe and even persistent.

A chronic, or long-term, health effect—such as asthma—has symptoms that develop slowly over a long period of time or which recur frequently. With a better sense of how a chemical might affect us, we can work to take the best preventive action.

Making informed product selections requires weighing various options, including looking at whether you can minimize exposure to the chemical, avoid it all together or use a safer alternative. When prioritizing health benefits, you may be able to go for the “best” option. But when trying to juggle cost, effectiveness, health and other factors, you may need to consider the “good” or “better” options as well.