PFAS and the Built Environment: The Science Behind "Forever Chemicals" in Built Environments

In the rapidly evolving landscape of interior design, the conscientious selection of materials is crucial for environmental sustainability and human health. This presentation, led by a researcher from Chemical Insights Research Institute, delves into the presence of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in interiors. PFAS, commonly known as 'forever chemicals', are widely used for their water and stain resistance qualities in various products, ranging from furnishings to architectural finishes. This session begins with an overview of PFAS, particularly focusing on their environmental persistence and potential health impacts. We will discuss their specific applications in the commercial design sector, highlighting how these chemicals can inadvertently become part of our indoor environments. We will explore current research and developments in alternative materials that offer similar functional benefits without the environmental and health risks associated with PFAS. Designed for architects, designers, and industry stakeholders, this presentation aims to inform and inspire a shift towards more sustainable and health-conscious material choices in interior design.

Marilyn Black, PhD

Vice President and Senior Technical and Strategic Advisor

Chemical Insights Research Institute

As a Public Health scientist, Dr. Black is a leader in the study of chemical and biological pollution and its impact on human health. She has a particular interest in reducing environmental exposure to children and safeguarding their health. Dr. Black founded the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, a nonprofit organization that oversees the International GREENGUARD Certification Programs for ensuring chemical safe products. GREENGUARD has been instrumental in driving the marketplace to safer construction materials, interior furnishings, and consumer products for healthy and sustainable buildings.

Dr. Black’s scientific experiences have included correlating lead exposure levels in children to reduced learning abilities; studying toxic materials in Apollo moon rocks; evaluating the impact of climate change on public health; identifying the sources of “sick building syndrome” and bringing solutions to schools, commercial buildings and homes; and improving the health of asthmatic children through various interventions, as recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Black is passionate about reducing environmental pollution for the betterment of societal well-being and the planet. Following research and teaching at the joint MIT/Harvard School of Public Health/private environmental initiative and Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Black founded Air Quality Sciences, Inc. (AQS,) a testing and research leader focused on chemical and biological air pollution, including environmental chamber testing and its application in evaluating human health risks of indoor materials, furnishings, cleaners, and electronic equipment. In 2011, AQS became UL Air Quality Sciences through acquisition by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) an international testing and certification organization. Dr. Black is currently leading UL’s not-for-profit organization’s Research Institute, Chemical Insights, whose mission is to deliver the scientific insight policymakers, healthcare providers, business leaders and consumers
depend on to make informed environmental health decisions.

With more than 35 years of experience, Dr. Black participates in numerous important national and international scientific organizational initiatives, National Academies, global research initiatives, and community outreach programs. She has been recognized with a number of prestigious public service awards including the Ford Motor Company Public Service Changemaker Award , the National Keystone Center Leadership Award in Environment and was named Environmental Champion by the architectural and design community. She has presented and published extensively in the air quality and human health field with over 200 peer reviewed publications, numerous invited publications, and expert testimony before Congress. She received a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, M.S. from
the University of Florida, and B.S. from the University of Virginia, all in Chemistry. She also holds a professional certification in Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy from the MIT Sloan School of Management

Holley Henderson, LEED Fellow, Fitwel Ambassador, WELL AP

Director, Education and Outreach

Chemical Insights Research Institute

Holley is known as the Common Sense Environmentalist making sustainable choices make sense for your business. Prior to founding H2 Ecodesign, Holley was with tvsdesign for ten years and launched their sustainability studio. H2 Ecodesign has led several “firsts,” including: the first LEED-CI project in the US (Platinum Level), the first LEED-CI in China (Gold Level), the first LEED project in Thailand, and most recently, a LEED-CS (Platinum Level) award for the largest energy provider in Thailand. This project is over 2 million square feet. Beyond buildings, H2 Ecodesign has collaborated with a myriad of product manufacturers including carpet, ceilings, faucets, insulation and resilient flooring facilitating their green path including external and internal communication.

Currently, she is providing project management for Chemical Insights, an Institute of Underwriters Laboratories who contributes to the protection of human health and well-being through scientific research. Research initiatives are focused on air quality regarding 3D printing, furniture flammability, vaping and global air pollution.

For over a decade, Holley served the National U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in a variety of leadership roles including the Chair of the Market Advisory Committee, LEED-CI Core Committee, and the National USGBC LEED Steering Committee. Currently, Holley is Chair of the IFMA Environmental Stewardship Utilities & Sustainability (ESUS) Program Committee. Holley is an ASID Distinguished Speaker and author of the book Becoming a Green Building Professional.

This content will not be available until 06/10/2024 at 11:59 PM (EDT)