Building Materials: Product Emission and Combustion Health Hazards, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Building Materials

Product Emission and Combustion Health Hazards, 1st Edition

By Kathleen Hess-Kosa

CRC Press

324 pages | 120 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781498714938
pub: 2017-04-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315371269
pub: 2017-04-07
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The construction industry is bombarded with ever-changing building materials—components of which are more and more difficult, if not impossible, to identify. Building material emissions have been implicated as a major source of indoor air pollution, and toxic gases, often unidentified, are generated in building fires.

Building Materials: Product Emission and Combustion Health Hazards undertakes the task of identifying building materials emission and combustion health hazards. This practical guide introduces the complex world of polymers commonly used in building materials along with plasticizers and additives that are not regulated by OSHA. It also explores the topic of building materials as they relate to function and their emissions/combustion products along with thermal decomposition and combustion products as they relate to fire first responders.

Engaging environmental professionals, construction management firms, architects, first respondents, and students, this valuable reference delivers a comprehensive spectrum of knowledge needed to face the challenges of managing building materials in the twenty-first century. Awareness is the first line of defense!


"Dr. Hess-Kosa’s book provides…a searchlight of clear, expert information that guides the reader through natural and synthetic building materials, their uses, properties, emissions, and risks. This book is an heir to Rachel Carlson (Silent Spring) and Theo Colborn (Our Stolen Future) but with a new turn: from building foundation to chimney top the author describes hundreds of classes and specific building materials, explaining their potential hazards. Everyone who builds, renovates, enters, works in or lives in buildings, as well as anyone who studies the safety of the building environment will find this work invaluable."

—Daniel Friedman,, Poughkeepsie New York, USA

"This would be an excellent resource for anyone concerned about exposure to chemicals released from building materials (including furnishings and even consumer products). This includes architects, contactors, health professionals and building managers. Also building office occupants themselves and homeowners who are exposed daily to the indoor environment. The general public and responders such as firefighters are exposed to smoke and fumes emitted from building materials in case of fires and would find information presented in this book invaluable."

— Charles S. Jamison, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Table of Contents




Units of Measurement

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Section I All Things Considered

Building Material Components: Old and New, Natural and Synthetic

Natural Building Products

Plastics’ Most Notorious

Modern Building Materials



Product Emissions and Evolution of Indoor Air Pollution

Evolution of Public Awareness

The Wonderland of Product Emissions

The Green Movement



Safety Data Sheets, Green Movement, and More

Safety Data Sheets

California Green Buildings Emissions Testing for VOCs

Green Product Emissions Testing and Certification Programs

U.S. EPA Toxic Substances Control Listings and Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products

Information and Interpretation Limitations

Environmental Movement Banishes Toxin Building Materials



Section II Polymers in Construction

Polymers in Our World

The World of Polymers

Hazards of Polymers



Plastics Commonly Found in Building Materials

Thermoplastic Polymers

Thermoset Plastics


Polymeric Foams

Foremost in Popularity

Minor Contributors

Infamy Worthy of Mention



Elastomeric Polymers

Butyl Rubber

Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene

Ethylene Polypropylene Diene Monomer Rubber

Neoprene Rubber

Polyurea/Polyaspartic Elastomer





Most Prominent Plasticizers

Lesser Plasticizers


Plastic Additives


Flame Retardants




Section III Building Materials by Function

Overview of Building Material Components

Function versus Type

Composition Gone Wild

Thermal Decomposition and Combustion

Location of Building Material Emitters and the Effect of Environmental Conditions



Foundations, Framing, Sheathing, and Vapor Barriers

Foundation Components

Framing Components

Exterior Wall/Roof Sheathing and Structural Subflooring

Vapor Barriers



Exterior Enclosure Components

Windows and Doors

Roofing Materials

Exterior Wall Cladding

Finishing Touches



Plumbing, Electrical, and Mechanical Systems

Plumbing: Water and Sewage/Wastewater Pipes


Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning



Thermal/Acoustical Insulation and Interior Wall/Ceiling Materials

Thermal/Acoustical Building Insulation

Interior Walls and Ceilings

Lime Plaster



Interior Finish-Out Components



Flooring Materials

Carpet Padding

Resilient Flooring

Trim, Molding, and More



Adhesives, Sealants, Surface Finishes, and More


Thermoset Adhesives

Caulks and Sealants






About the Author

Kathleen Hess-Kosa, MS, CIH, is an industrial hygiene/environmental consultant with Omega Environmental Consulting in Canyon Lake, Texas. In 1972, she earned her Bachelor of Science in microbiology with a minor in chemistry from Oklahoma State University. In 1979, she earned a Master of Science in industrial hygiene from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. After her travails through the education system, she finally entered the real world and became challenged with all problems great and small within an insurance company. While working for Firemen’s Fund Insurance Companies, she had the opportunity to become involved in a variety of unique industrial hygiene assessments including her first indoor air quality study which involved a newly constructed 800-occupant high rise office building. This was back in 1982, and the 90% complaint rate dropped to 10%—after throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the problem. Her success sparked that which has become her passion for indoor air quality. Subsequently, she has pursued multiple avenues to effectively respond to the new challenges. Upon starting her own consulting firm in 1986, Ms. Hess-Kosa has continued to pursue her passion, added to her list of curiosities mold/moisture damage, sewage contamination, and all things out of the ordinary. She has taken several courses in construction techniques at the local community college. She has designed and been involved in construction projects involving two of her own homes. One of her hobbies it that of building massive southwest wood doors. She has also been a consultant to several construction firms. Beyond this book, Ms. Hess-Kosa is credited with several other technical books. They include Environmental Sampling for Unknowns, Indoor Air Quality: Sampling Methodologies (2nd edition), Environmental Site Assessment Phase I: A Basic Guide (2nd edition), An Environmental Health and Safety Auditing Made Easy, A Checklist Approach for Industry, Indoor Air Quality: The Latest Sampling and Analytical Methods. Ms. Hess-Kosa is an active outdoor enthusiast and world traveler, photographer, and avid reader of adventure novels. Life is full of challenges!

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety