This article will review basic concepts that could change how you look at materials and your materials specification processes. It begins with understanding the differences between hazard, exposure and risk or danger – the importance of considering product use and exposure and the limitations of using a hazard-only decision making process when selecting building materials. This article also will describe some tools, guidance and resources available for evaluating products and materials to help achieve both a high quality construction project, and one that is safe for building occupants. Finally, this article will provide information to help you use building materials safely.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the difference between “hazard,” “exposure,” and “risk “and their uses to inform material and product selection.
  • Describe the limitations of hazard-only assessment when selecting building materials and the benefits of including other factors beyond hazard in product decision making.
  • Identify appropriate tools and guidance materials for evaluating building products and materials to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the occupants.
  • Identify resources available that can help you evaluate exposure levels to ingredients in buildings products and materials.