Building products are a highly variable product group encompassing a diverse range of materials in different applications, such as steel, concrete or wood but also plastic and polymer materials in insulation foam or epoxy resins. Like many other products, these materials are often a complex composition of individual chemical constituents, some of which may exhibit hazardous effects on human health and the environment.

Hazardous chemicals in building products can impact human health and the environment at various stages of their life cycle: during construction, exposure of workers can lead to severe health effects. Also, during the use phase of a building, hazardous chemicals can be released from materials and adversely affect occupants and office workers and can reach the environment. Lastly, exposure of workers and the environment to hazardous chemicals may also occur during end-of-life stages, such as retrofitting, demolition, recycling or deposition of building products.

The global construction sector is expected to grow by 3.5% annually, with its chemical market projected to grow by 6.2% annually between 2018 and 2023. This growth will primarily be driven by the rapidly urbanizing Asian and African regions (Global Chemicals Outlook II). With this growth, there are many opportunities to use safer chemicals and building materials for construction and the global green building materials market is expected to grow from 2016 to 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% (Global Chemicals Outlook II).

Chemicals of concern in building products have been a priority sector for activities under the Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management (SAICM). A current project aims at accelerating the adoption of measures by governments and value chain stakeholders to reduce the use of chemicals of concern in building products.