Global design firm Perkins+Will has released the Perkins+Will Precautionary List, which highlights chemicals listed by government agencies as having negative health issues and the classes of building materials where they might commonly be found. The list also offers alternatives to these materials so as to help foster healthier buildings. The list is available online for free access.

The list breaks 25 chemicals down into typical building categories such as wood treatments, indoor air quality, ozone depleting gasses, and heavy metals. Entries describe the chemical and provide links to vetted government databases that catalog chemicals and their known health hazards. In addition, the list showcases where the chemicals are or may be found in specific products and provides alternative suggestions. In some cases, the firm acknowledges that healthier alternatives currently may not exist.

“There is an ever increasing focus in the green building movement on the relationship between humans and the built environment,” notes Peter Syrett, AIA, LEED AP™ associate principal at Perkins+Will and one of the creators of the Precautionary List. “There are thousands of chemicals used in a building and only a small percentage has been tested. We created this list to advocate for alternative building products and advocate care when using products that have identified chemical hazards.”

One example from the list is mercury, a known neurotoxin that can be found in HVAC controls, lamps, resilient floors and thermostats. The precautionary list showcases mechanical controls without mercury systems, different flooring systems, mercury-free lamp alternatives and encourages builders to pursue, advocate and specify for these alternatives when reasonable.

The entire Perkins+Will Precautionary List is online at