Healthier Materials

Healthier Materials


A Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

There are over 80,000 chemicals widely used in commerce – the vast majority of which haven’t been tested for human safety. Even common chemicals that we do know are harmful to our health are still ubiquitously added to products and found in the bodies of virtually every American. For over a decade, we have conducted research on our indoor exposures to chemicals from building materials and products.

Harvard Healthier Building Materials Academy

There are solutions to this problem. In 2017 we launched a new collaboration with Harvard’s Office for Sustainability and created the Harvard Healthier Building Materials Academy. The goal was to ground our product purchase decisions in the latest science, including leading research done right on our own campus.

We held workshops and information sessions with stakeholders across the University to bring the science on healthier materials to the forefront, empowering all to lead the implementation effort across the campus. And that they did – focusing on ingredient transparency and eliminating classes of chemicals from key product categories, there are now over 40 projects across the campus using this approach, including the new Science and Engineering Complex.

Our study on the impact of these healthier materials decisions found lower levels of toxic chemical classes in these projects, showing that when we act, we make a difference.

Highlights From The Academy

Relevant Research

Jan 10, 2023
Hormone receptor activities of complex mixtures of known and suspect chemicals
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Nov 8, 2022
Organic Fluorine as an Indicator of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Dust from Buildings with Healthier versus Conventional Materials
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Sep 1, 2021
Nature: Electronic cigarette smoke reduces ribosomal protein gene expression to impair protein synthesis in primary human airway epithelial cells
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Apr 14, 2021
Assessing Indoor Dust Interference with Human Nuclear Hormone Receptors in Cell-Based Luciferase Reporter Assays
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In The News

Feb 20, 2024
Our Global Chemical Experiment
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Apr 12, 2023
Fast Company: How PFAS were cleverly rebranded as ‘forever chemicals’
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Jan 25, 2023
HSPH: Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemical mixtures common among office workers
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