Greenguard Environmental Institute and NSF International announced they will create a broad standard for measuring the chemical emissions in building products and determining exposure limits. The new standard will be rolled out in about 18 months.

“There are a lot of standards on the market right now,” said Greengaurd executive director Henning Bloech. “You look at pretty much every chemical that you find and see which ones have health-based exposure limits. There is still a big gap.”

To close the gap, the new Greenguard/NSF standard, to be developed under ANSI protocols, will draw from health and toxicology science and countless chemical emissions calculation methods to create an expansive rubric for grading product safety, the organizations said. 

There is desperate need for a group of scientists to set limits for potentially harmful chemicals, Bloech contended, and the new partnership will do just that. “We felt it was time to get a panel of experts, of toxicologists, public health chemists, manufacturers, certifiers,” he said, “[to bring] all these folks together to create a standard that goes much broader than what’s been done before.”

Greenguard is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization that aims to improve health through programs that reduce people’s exposure to chemicals and other pollutants. Greenguard currently measures the emissions and toxicity of about 300 chemicals.

NSF is an independent, not-for-profit organization that writes standards for food, water, and consumer goods in an effort to minimize adverse health effects and to protect the environment. It also certifies products.

While the new standard will be more stringent and time-intensive than Greenguard’s current one, it will not cost manufacturers more to submit their products for review, Bloech said.

“It will ultimately help extend the reach of low-emitting products and materials into the residential market, much better than we have right now,” he said.