Stronger EU chemical criteria needed

7/6/2016 9:30 AM CET

As part of our work to identify and phase out potentially harmful materials from the buildings and civil infrastructure we develop and build, Skanska calls upon the European Commission to strengthen its recently released criteria for identifying endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Skanska checked all 3,000 materials used in building Sweden’s New Karolinska Solna hospital against industry databases to determine any harmful qualities.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found in everyday products from paints to pesticides, and their effects on the hormone system have been linked to increased risks of cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

We credit the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, for on June 15 unveiling the world’s first scientifically-based EDC criteria. (The criteria needs legislative approval.) But we believe that more must be done to protect consumers. The criteria should be more generally applied, and not limited to pesticides and biocides – such as disinfectants – as it is currently proposed.

Broad, well-defined criteria will greatly aid Skanska and other companies in eliminating EDCs from our supply chains. Such criteria would also help companies steer long-term product development goals and promote consumer confidence.

Caring for life

“We seek stronger criteria on EDCs to support our ongoing work to phase out substances of concern and our aspiration to incorporate Zero Hazardous Materials into our projects by promoting the development of alternative products that are better for people and the environment,” says Jennifer Clark, Skanska AB senior vice president of Green and Corporate Community Investment. “Stronger criteria would also support our Care for Life value by promoting health and well-being for the occupants of the buildings we develop and construct.”

Broad industry support

In early June, Skanska joined with fellow green leaders Ikea Group, H&M, Coop Denmark, Kingfisher and the Swedish Construction Federation in sending the Commission a statement asking for scientifically based and clear EDC criteria that can be easily understood, communicated and applied to various products. This follows input we provided the Commission in early 2015 on the need for protective and inclusive EDC criteria.

Active efforts

Globally and in our home markets, we actively work to eliminate materials that can be harmful: we consider both the construction process and how each completed facility will be used. We have banned four metals and six families of man-made chemicals: these include phthalates, which make plastics softer, and brominated flame retardants.

Our Business Units take additional steps in their local markets. For instance, in Sweden and Norway our standard practice is to check materials against industry databases to determine any harmful qualities. For example, all 3,000 materials used in building Sweden’s New Karolinska Solna hospital were vetted this way. Even more, the project’s stringent green requirements – driven by customer Stockholm County Council – helped elevate industry standards.

In another example, Skanska worked with equipment manufacturer Hilti to develop the use of an injectable mortar free of isocyanates, which are potentially dangerous irritants to the eyes and respiratory tract. This non-hazardous alternative maintains the same technical properties, making its use an easy choice.

Green is just one aspect of how Skanska defines Sustainability.

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