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What are “forever chemicals” and how do they affect your building?

Jun 13, 2023 | Public | 0 comments

 

As we move toward more environmentally conscious and health-focused practices in commercial cleaning and maintenance, it’s important to make choices that are in line with your values and your company’s mission, and that includes evaluating the products you use.

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also called “forever chemicals,” are a large family of man-made chemicals most commonly used in paints, stains, and other water repellants. They are called forever chemicals because of their long-term negative effects on humans and their resistance to breaking down in the environment. Often contained in paints, these chemicals present a risk to everyone exposed, from the people using the products to everyone in your building.

A study looked at 94 paint samples across brands, tiers, gloss, base, and colours, finding that 50 per cent contained levels of PFAS. How can you stop your building from containing these damaging ingredients?

Consider the sources

When buying your paint or hiring a contractor, be aware of the paint they are using. Choose paint that is environmentally responsible and better for human health. While these chemicals may be added by the manufacturer, it’s also possible that they are added throughout the supply chain, so be aware of where your paint is coming from and what may be added before you receive the product.

Look deeper

 Many times, the levels of these chemicals fall below the reporting regulations, so you may not even see this as an ingredient on the label. It’s important that your suppliers and distributors have transparency, so you can be sure about the products you are using.

Do the research

 While we have been focusing mostly on paint, PFAS have also been found in carpets, counters, cleaning supplies, and more. Become familiar with the ingredients you want to avoid and be diligent in choosing products that are safer and more responsible. This may seem like a daunting task but take it one step at a time to stop using products that don’t align with your goals.

Use resources like ECOLOGO®, a Canadian certification given to products with verified reduced environmental impact to help try and find products that are right for your business.

From PFAS to VOCs, there are many ingredients that could be threatening to the environment and the people in your building. Start by getting familiar with undesirable chemicals, look into your sources, and follow the trail to make sure that you are lowering your environmental impact and keeping the people in your building safe.

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