Academic article

Incompatible trends - Hazardous Chemical Usage in Building Products Poses Challenges for Functional Circular Construction

Abstract: Based on a review of 2012 and 2016 data in the Nordic chemical database, SPIN, this paper is an assessment of the usage of REACH’s Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and Denmark’s List over Undesirable Substances (LOUS) chemicals in the building industry in Denmark. The paper is a status update of the 2016 Danish Environmental Agency’s report of the usage of hazardous substances in sustainable buildings, based on 2012 data from SPIN. The analysis focuses on change in tonnage of usage of chemicals found in twelve different construction product categories in SPIN, crosschecked with substances from the SVHC and the LOUS lists. The usage of some hazardous substances in certain usage categories has reduced from 2012 to 2016.

There is an overall trend indicating an increase of undesirable chemical in construction articles and preparations, which poses serious challenges for a functioning circular built environment. Findings indicate which construction categories and which chemicals are of particular concern for the current construction market in Denmark. The results underscore the essential need for transparency in building product content, in order for design professionals and contractors to make decisions that support the future use of the material or building element.