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Asthma Triggers Focus of New Report

NEW YORK — Global interdisciplinary design firm Perkins+Will released a report examining the detrimental impact of building materials and products on asthma. The report “Healthy Environments: A Compilation of Substances Linked to Asthma,” identifies 374 substances commonly found in the built environment that are known or suspected asthmagens.

Perkins+Will’s knowledge in building materials prompted the report, which is being published in hopes of raising awareness of the connection between health and buildings while identifying existing sources of information so that healthy buildings will result. Also included is detailed information on the occupations and industries that come into the most contact with these potentially hazardous materials. The report’s findings were compiled from an analysis of eight lists of published research from both academic and government sources.

“We are glad to highlight the lurking public health threat of asthmagens in the built environment,” said Peter Syrett, leader of sustainability efforts at Perkins+Will’s New York office. “This report complements Perkins+Will’s precautionary list and transparency website in educating the public on the potentially harmful impact of buildings on the environment and human health.”

Among the indoor substances and objects linked to asthma are building materials and furnishings; household cleaning, personal care, and hobby products; central heating and cooling systems; and humidification devices.

According to the report, it’s estimated that 23 million Americans suffer from asthma, with 7.1 million of them children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note, “many indoor environments have pollutant levels two- to five- times higher, and occasionally more than 100-times higher, than outdoor levels.” Since Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, indoor air quality can have a dramatic impact on these rising asthma rates. Thus, something must be done to improve conditions. The complete report is available for viewing at

Publication date: 9/3/2012

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