New Research By Perkins+Will Identifies Alternatives to Flame Retardant Building Materials

The firm’s white paper offers opportunities to design healthier buildings without compromising on safety

Global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will has released new research in response to the need for architects and interior designers to develop a better understanding of flame retardants and their impact on health. Flame retardants in the built environment are associated with a range of health impacts including cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurodevelopmental problems. Many flame retardants are persistent, bioaccumulative, and/or toxic, and their use in buildings is largely avoidable.

The white paper, titled “Healthy Environments: Strategies for Avoiding Flame Retardants in the Built Environment” and developed by Perkins+Will’s Healthy Materials Group and Science Fellow Michel Dedeo, identifies both new and existing opportunities to design healthier buildings without compromising fire safety or code compliance.

Perkins+Will’s white paper includes a list of 193 flame retardants, including 29 discovered in building and household products, 50 discovered in the indoor environment, and 33 discovered in human blood, milk, and tissues. The research can help designers identify which products should be subjected to extra scrutiny during the design and construction process and provides options for less hazardous alternatives. The white paper also helps to identify gaps in current understanding of the sources and paths of chemical exposure.

“We want to bring awareness to this important issue impacting the health and wellbeing of building occupants,” said Perkins+Will’s Healthy Materials Leader Suzanne Drake. “The research we have conducted is a valuable resource for identifying healthy alternatives to flame retardant building materials.”

The full white paper is available for download here.