Strengthening Federal Rules and Resources to Support Healthier Homes

March 9, 2023
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources


Harley Stokes: Federal Funds to Support Healthier Homes and Schools.

Nick Chartres: The Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA): Case Study: Formaldehyde & Asthma.

Past webinars

The Science on Toxic Chemicals in the Built Environment: Environmental Health Disparities and Equity-Driven Solutions (CHE webinar recording, 2021)

Environmental Justice and the Built Environment: Protecting Children and Families (CHE webinar recording, 2023)

Promoting Environmental Justice with Safer Building Materials (CHE webinar recording, 2023)


Building Clean

Building Clean's Good, Better, Best Classification

BlueGreen Alliance. A User Guide to the Inflation Reduction Act. (Section on Buildings)

BlueGreen Alliance. A User Guide to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. (Section on Buildings)

Healthy Building Network. Product Guidance. (Guidance for building product selection.)

Healthy Building Network. Home Free. (National initiative helping leaders in affordable housing to protect health by using less toxic building materials.)

Patterson, Witherspoon et al. 2022. The Racism that Upends the Cradle: Black Children Caught in the Syndemic Crosshairs. Chisholm Legacy Project and Children's Environmental Health Network.

Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment. 2023. Strengthening the Chemical Regulatory Process

Woodruff et al. 2023. A Science-Based Agenda for Health-Protective Chemical Assessments and Decisions: Overview and Consensus StatementEnvironmental Health 21 (Suppl. 1), 132. 


This webinar, the third in our series on building products and disproportionate chemical exposures, explored the need for improved federal regulation of chemicals found in building products as well as the ways in which federal resources can be brought to bear to create safer homes. 

Toxic chemicals in building products are among the sources of exposure to key chemicals of concern, and there are opportunities for EPA to address these exposures through improved implementation of its authorities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In addition, there are opportunities for the federal government to direct resources toward construction and retrofitting of healthier homes.

Harley Stokes of the BlueGreen Alliance discussed how new construction or retrofitting of a building or home provide opportunities to address disproportionate exposures by utilizing healthy building materials. There are several relevant federal programs that received funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act that could be used towards that end. Importantly, the Justice40 Initiative mandates that federal agencies ensure 40% of benefits from relevant programs go to environmental justice communities that have suffered disproportionate exposure to health and environmental hazards.

Dr. Nicholas Chartres of UCSF's Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) discussed the opportunities for TSCA to play a critical role in limiting or preventing the manufacture and use of toxic substances in building materials. The next 20 chemicals being evaluated under TSCA include six phthalates, four flame retardants, and formaldehyde. He presented a case study of EPA's approach to regulation of formaldehyde.

The webinar was introduced and moderated by Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH, Executive Director for the Children's Environmental Health Network. 

This webinar was the third in a three-part series exploring the disproportionate exposure of pregnant people, infants, children of color and other vulnerable populations to toxic chemicals and the ways in which choosing healthier building materials can protect vulnerable populations. This series was co-hosted by BlueGreen Alliance, the Collaborative for Health and Environment, the Program for Reproductive Health and the Environment, and Healthy Building Network, in partnership with Green Building Alliance, the Center for Environmental Health, and the Children's Environmental Health Network.

Featured Speakers

Harley Stokes, MA/MPH, Policy Advisor at the BlueGreen Alliance, leads policy development, advocacy, and network engagement for green buildings, health initiatives, and equity. Before joining BGA, Harley worked for several years on global food security and climate change through policy, advocacy, and technical implementation. She continued working at the nexus of health and environment, at the local level, leading the Livable Streets Coalition, a local environmental health and mobility equity initiative by a Maryland state delegate. Harley received a Bachelor of Arts in Africana and Hispanic studies from Vassar College and a dual Masters degree in International Affairs and Global Health from The George Washington University.

Nicholas Chartres, PhD is the Associate Director of Science & Policy at the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), University of California, San Francisco, which has been at the forefront in research translation methods in environmental health and identifying evidence-based policies to prevent exposures to harmful environmental chemicals. In his role he monitors and analyzes federal, state, and local chemical policy, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law that evaluates and regulates industrial chemicals, including those used in building materials in U.S. commerce. He has written extensive public comments, provided oral testimony and published analyses on how U.S EPA has failed to use the best available science resulting in systematic underestimations of risk for all chemicals evaluated under TSCA, and specific recommendations for improving its implementation to ensure equitable, socially just safeguards to public health.

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH is the Executive Director for the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), where her responsibilities include successfully organizing, leading, and managing equity-driven child-protective policy, education/training/technical assistance opportunities, and science-related programs. For the past 23 years, she has served as a key spokesperson for children’s vulnerabilities and the need for their protection, conducting presentations and lectures across the country and internationally. She is a leader in the field of children’s environmental health, serving on the External Science Board for the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) NIH Research work. She is a Co-Leader of the Health/Science initiative of the Cancer Free Economy Network, Co-Chair of the National Environmental Health Partnership Council, and Lead Chair of Clean Water for All. Ms. Witherspoon is a Steering Committee member for the National Environmental Network and the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative. Ms. Witherspoon has the distinct honor of having one of CEHN’s leadership awards, the Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award, named in her honor, and is the recipient of the William R. Reilly Award in Environmental Leadership from the Center for Environmental Policy at American University, the Snowy Egret Award from the Eastern Queens Alliance, and the 950 Distinguished Alumni Award from The George Washington Milken School of Public Health and Health Services. She has a B.S. in Biology Pre-Med from Siena College and a M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services.