Two Phthalate-Free PVC Plasticizers Stand Out in New Report
June 18, 2014
The Healthy Building Network (HBN) has released a research brief, Phthalate-free Plasticizers in PVC, that describes six alternatives to phthalate plasticizers. Phthalates are semi-volatile organic compounds used in PVC building products to provide flexibility and other performance characteristics (see The PVC Debate: A Fresh Look). They are known endocrine disruptors linked to a number of negative environmental and human health impacts and can leach out of vinyl flooring, wallcoverings, and other products. While phthalates are being replaced in some building products, the report aims to help design professionals evaluate whether the alternatives are truly any better.
HBN used European REACH reports, GreenScreen chemical hazard assessments, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, and other sources as the basis for its report, comparing the manufacturing impacts, potential human health effects, and ecotoxicity of these non-phthalate plasticizers against diisononyl phthalate (DINP), a common phthalate used in building products such as PVC carpet backing. HBN reviewed phthalate-free plasticizers for their safety and compiled the research into a table that includes links to products, raw materials and ingredients, carcinogenicity, and other metrics. Two biobased plasticizers—Grindsted Soft-n-Safe (found in Tarkett IQ Naturals and UpoFloor Hovi Quartz and Podium Naturale flooring) and Polysorb ID 37 (found in Gerflor Mipolam Symbioz vinyl flooring)—stood out as having the fewest environmental and health impacts, according to HBN.
To better understand the impact of plasticizers and PVC in general, HBN also dedicates a large portion of the report to describing vinyl’s life cycle and toxicity and points out that there are gaps in knowledge pertaining to these new chemicals.