The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team

*** Nov. 20, 2012 update:  NSF International Retracts Post-Consumer Fly Ash Designation. Click here to read. ***

Should fly ash from coal fired power plants be considered post-consumer recycled material?  Amazingly, NSF International, the certification and standards institution, thinks so.  Two recent decisions added fuel to the debate about the use of coal-fired power plant waste in building materials:  First, NSF designated “Celceram” -- coal fly ash marketed by Boral Material Technologies -- as a 100% post-consumer product.  Then, by a 14-4 vote, an NSF Standards Committee decided to ...

Some publicly traded building product manufacturers, beginning in 2013, will be required to report on the presence of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold in their products.   In a 3-2 vote last week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules that implement disclosure requirements for “conflict minerals.” These rules are required under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Public companies will have to take certain actions if these metals are “necessary to the functionality or production of a product.”  The final rule says companies must conduct an inquiry to determine whether the metals originated in the covered countries (the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjoining countries). If the materials are not recycled or scrap, and the origin was either the covered region or can not be determined, the company...

The two largest processors of coal power plant waste used in building materials -- Boral Material Technologies and Headwaters Resources – – are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency over its indecision about regulating their products.  For all concerned, it would have been better to have this discussion before coal combustion waste entered the building material market. 

Once a cheerleader for the “beneficial reuse” of coal power plant waste, EPA is considering quite the opposite position: regulating it as hazardous waste.

Boral and Headwaters are asking the US District Court in Washington, DC, to set a three month deadline for the Agency’s final determination. 

Inside EPA reports that the two companies filed a brief on August 14, 2012, stating that the delay “’has created uncertainty in the beneficial use...

Toxic commerce flourishes in the opaque US regulatory environment.  For over thirty years, corporate members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have enjoyed the confidentiality and toothless nature of the most important chemical regulation that applies to them: the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

But the days of secrecy and unregulated access for new chemicals are numbered. For seven years, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) tried to push TSCA reform legislation through the Senate environment committee.  On Wednesday, his Safe Chemicals Act finally cleared this hurdle by a 10-to-8 party line vote.

ACC chair Cal Dooley last month called the Lautenberg bill an “extreme proposal,”  and Republican senators professed economic, safety, and even national security reasons not to support it.

While the bill may not survive a polarized legislative branch, the...

originally published in Healthy Building News

Ramping up its assault on the US Green Building Council's initiative to offer credits for reducing toxic chemicals in LEED®-certified buildings (see Chemical Giants Target The USGBC: Part 1), the American Chemistry Council this week announced the formation of the American High Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC).

This organization is comprised of 27 trade associations (including the Vinyl Institute, the Vinyl Siding Institute, and the Flexible Vinyl Alliance). It appears to be designed primarily to stop new, voluntary credits proposed for LEED that would reward efforts to slightly reduce the use of highly toxic chemicals in...

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