If a Little Bit of Sunshine Can Melt Vinyl Siding, Think What Full Transparency for the Vinyl Industry Could Do

Mar 25, 2010 4:15 PM ET
Campaign: Pharos

The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team

Last week, Plastics News reported on a phenomenon in which “low-E” or energy efficient windows installed on homes with vinyl siding were actually causing the vinyl to melt when exposed to focused sunlight from the low-E windows.     It is perhaps not that surprising when you consider the fact that the vinyl industry has for the most part left consumers in the dark about the contents and true environmental health impacts of their products.  Consider that of the more than ten vinyl flooring manufacturers contacted by the Pharos Project, only one (Lonseal) fully disclosed their product ingredients in the system.  The rest either declined to participate altogether or chose to keep information about key chemical ingredients proprietary.     If there was any doubt as to whether the vinyl industry’s reluctance to participate in the Pharos Project was a calculated decision, the Pharos Project received an email on September 17, 2009 from a representative of a leading vinyl manufacturer that set the record straight. Regarding our request that they participate in the Pharos Project they responded:     “The Pharos Project Team has of course made similar requests of other flooring manufacturers and subsequently, this request was discussed at an ‘industry’ level and the decision was then made to not participate at this time based on the categorization of certain materials (namely PVC)."   The vinyl industry’s reticence to come into the light of transparency is easily explained by its track record of serious environmental contamination. This toxic trail starts in communities around chemical manufacturing facilities, continues in the buildings where users are exposed to toxic additives like phthalates, and ends with the dispersal of these contaminants after the product’s useful end of life.   So a little sunshine may not be doing your vinyl siding any good, but it sure would feel wonderful to consumers trying to make the best choice for the planet.