A joint statement from leading green construction organizations raised concerns about the increasing use of chemicals and antimicrobials in building materials.
During the pandemic there was a spate of antimicrobial construction products, such as countertops and door handles. But experts warn that they may actually do more harm than good.
Bombarded with chemistry
The statement examines the key areas of concern about the use of these antimicrobials and other chemicals, their efficacy and their possible side effects on human health and the environment. The harms are known, the benefits not proven.
The joint statement also points the finger at the misleading marketing of such products.
In recent months, there have been more advertisements for chemicals and disinfectants being offered to families with the promise of preventing the spread of Covid-19.
While most of these appear harmless, more dangerous chemicals could be released into homes if an evidence-based approach is not taken.
Antimicrobials in homes: uncertain benefits, certain harm
The statement states that the possible environmental and health effects of these chemicals are not known.
"Unfortunately, the science behind antimicrobials in construction products and architecture it doesn't live up to the marketing claims, "he said Tom Bruton, one of the authors of the statement and a senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute. "Indeed, these antimicrobial products could provide a false sense of protection from the novel coronavirus while posing other health threats."
The most used antimicrobials
There are many antimicrobials used in building materials and other household products. Among the most common chemicals are compounds of quaternary ammonium, which have been associated with asthma.
Others include the triclosan, which can affect how hormones work and has been banned in products such as hand soaps, but it is still allowed in building materials.
"Architects, planners and building owners should take a precautionary approach and avoid unproven solutions with known damage," he says. Gina Ciganik, CEO of Healthy Building Network.