Skip to Content
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

Sep 1, 2021
Nature: Electronic cigarette smoke reduces ribosomal protein gene expression to impair protein synthesis in primary human airway epithelial cells
View Research
Apr 14, 2021
Assessing Indoor Dust Interference with Human Nuclear Hormone Receptors in Cell-Based Luciferase Reporter Assays
View Research
Mar 23, 2021
Flame Retardant Concentrations in College Spaces
View Research
Mar 1, 2021
Impact of “healthier” materials interventions on dust concentrations of PFAS chemicals
View Research
View More Research

In The News

Apr 15, 2021
HSPH: Chemical-laden indoor dust may interfere with sexual development, reproduction
Read More
Mar 23, 2021
Harvard is taking steps to eliminate harmful chemicals on campus
Read More
Mar 17, 2021
Science and Engineering Complex named one of the world’s healthiest lab buildings
Read More
View More News