741 resources found

Cover article
Academic article

Pharmaceutical pollution of the world’s rivers

Environmental exposure to active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can have negative effects on the health of ecosystems and humans. While numerous studies have monitored APIs in rivers, these employ different analytical methods, measure different APIs, and have ignored many of the countries of the world. This makes it difficult to quantify the scale of the problem from a global perspective. Here, we present a global-scale study of API pollution in 258 of the world’s rivers, representing the environmental influence of 471.4 million people across 137 geographic regions. 

Emerging Policy Issues: Pharmaceutical pollutants
European Commission
Academic article

Safe and Sustainable by Design chemicals and materials - Application of the SSbD framework to case studies

The European Commission (EC) developed a framework for the definition of criteria for SSbD chemicals and materials to steer innovation towards the green industrial transition, foster substitution or minimisation of the production and use of substances of concern, and minimize impact on human health, climate and the environment.

The framework is composed of two components: a (re)design phase in which design guiding principles and indicators are proposed to support the design of chemicals and materials, and a safety and sustainability assessment phase in which the safety and environmental sustainability of the chemical/ material are assessed. Hence, the framework encompasses both safety and sustainability assessment, conducted by means of life cycle assessment and it represents the backbone of the EC recommendations on SSBD released in December 2022. This report presents the application of the SSBD framework to an illustrative case study in order to pave the way for further refinements thereof, towards wider application in support to innovation for sustainability.


Flame retardants

UNEP page on flame retardants, covering common types and their uses in different products, including insulation.

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.

Green Science Policy Institute

Healthier Insulation

Guidance from the Green Science Policy Institute on specifying healthier insulation, including research on flame retardants.

Cabinetry and millwork

Healthy Building Network Guidance - Cabinetry and Millwork

Guidance from the Healthy Building Network on selecting safer products for interior furniture and fittings.  The guidance looks at wood and composite materials, including glues and resins contained with these products.


Healthy Building Network Guidance - Roofing

Guidance from the Healthy Building Network on selecting a safer roofing product.


Built Environment Journal: Why we must limit use of construction plastics

Plastics are used in a vast range of building components, such as seals, windows and doors, roofing, internal and external finishes, paints, panels, varnishes, stains, pipes, guttering, cables, floor coverings, membranes, formwork, supporting structures, building skins and insulation. However, their benefits come at a growing cost to the environment and public health.

The construction industry consumes 20% of all plastics and 70% of all polyvinyl chloride (PVC) produced globally each year. Exponentially greater amounts are being produced and used, with 8.3bn tonnes of virgin plastics produced worldwide between 1950 and 2017 and global output predicted to double by 2050.

The transition to sustainable construction will involve fundamental changes in the way buildings are designed, manufactured, built and operated. As society pushes up against established planetary boundaries, professionals working in the built environment need to identify how to change our practice.