These crucial products contain various chemicals that hold things together, cover up surface imperfections, and keep moisture out. The chemical components can include binders, solvents/thinners, plasticisers, fillers/bulking agents, thickeners, anti-foaming agents, preservatives, and many other chemical additives whose respective functions add to the product’s intended purpose. Unfortunately, some chemicals can threaten human health and indoor air quality as they emit damaging fumes and odours.
For example, as with many other furnishings, fittings, and building materials with an indoor application, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a big issue for adhesives. VOCs can trigger a range of health problems such as respiratory irritation, allergies, headaches and asthma. Formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen, is a particularly common VOC found in adhesives and resins, despite its toxicity to humans.
Crystalline silica is a component of soil, sand, granite and other minerals and can be found in many household adhesive products. If adhesive products are chipped, cut, drilled into or ground up after they set, any crystalline silica present may be broken down into particles small enough to be breathed in. Without proper safety precautions, this can set up workers for silica exposure and silicosis, a lung disease with no cure.
The potential health impacts don’t end there. Some residual monomers in polymers are allergenic or carcinogenic and should be avoided. Certain phthalates used as plasticisers in adhesives are also known to be endocrine disruptors. It’s also essential that toxic heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, arsenic, are not added to the final product or used in its creation. These substances can be detrimental to the health of manufacturing staff and users of the finished product.
Adhesives can negatively impact the environment as well. Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and lithopone are a few examples of compounds often found in adhesives and related building materials. Production of these compounds uses large amounts of energy, generates high volumes of waste, and results in air and water emissions that impact the environment. Without adequate policies and procedures, the discharge of wastewater and damaging substances can threaten aquatic ecosystems. Improper storage of chemicals can also lead to environmental harm via leaks, spills, water, and air emissions.
When a product is certified against GECA’s Adhesives, Fillers and Sealants standard, consumers can be sure that the product has been assessed to meet environmental, human health and social impact criteria while also proving that it performs as promised.
GECA certification removes doubt and confusion and makes identifying environmentally and socially preferable products easier. Products certified under this standard also contribute toward achieving credit points for projects being certified under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Performance tool.
The standard sets requirements that aim to provide a benefit by:
• reducing the use and subsequent release of environmentally harmful substances to the environment at all stages of the product’s life cycle
• reducing the presence and release of substances harmful to human health
• reducing impacts from raw material sourcing
• encouraging more efficient and effective use of energy and materials during the production process
• encouraging recovery, reuse, recycling and responsible disposal of unwanted product and packaging
The scope of this standard is applicable to adhesives, fillers and joint sealants including:
General purpose adhesives, fillers and joint sealants for building work including but not limited to:
• Carpet adhesives;
• Construction joint sealants;
• Cornice cement;
• Flooring adhesives;
• Interior lining finishing products;
• Multi-purpose construction adhesives;
• Stud adhesives;
• Tile adhesives;
• Wall covering adhesives; and
• Wallpaper pastes.
General purpose adhesives for commercial manufacturing including:
• Furniture manufacturing; and
• Panel board manufacturing.
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