As a practitioner of natural health and an EcoErgonomist, I am asked daily about the safety of building materials and safe “green” options. This article begins a series of investigative reports dealing with the questions my readers and patients ask about specific building and remodeling products.
While I personally do not use or recommend vinyl siding, credible research regarding the health effects on humans is sorely lacking. According to Greg Caplan, an expert on the subject based in Massachusetts, most of the concerns are with the toxicity involved in the manufacturing and disposal of the vinyl or PVC products.
However, documentation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other health organizations show vinyl siding as containing a known carcinogen (dioxin) and various other chemicals known to be hormone disrupters. Additionally, lead (a known health danger) is often used for stabilization as an agent in producing vinyl siding products…click to continue reading…
PVC vinyl is one of the world’s leading sources of dioxin, according to Greenpeace. It is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic resin that is a known carcinogen. However, vinyl has become the most popular siding material in the US. PVC vinyl became popular in the 1960s and grew in popularity when other plastics containing PCBs, CFCs and chlorinated solvents were eventually banned.
The argument for using vinyl siding is that it is easily applied over wood or cedar shingles. It doesn’t require painting, only the annual power-washing to maintain its original color and curb appeal. Manufacturers lure consumers to its products by offering it in a variety of colors and styles, many mimicking wood.
Fire Dangers – More than Flames
The biggest concern with vinyl siding is if the structure catches fire – leading to the toxic release of chemicals known to severely damage lung and kidney tissues, including emissions from the ash left behind after the fire is long gone.
Experts are also concerned about the binders in vinyl siding because they are affected by ultraviolet light as well as oxidation, as occurs with all kinds of plastics.
Affects of Heat and Weather
We all remember the reports of those toxic trailers for the Hurricane Katrina evacuees provided by FEMA. Most of those trailers were vinyl-sided, exposing those living in them to very high toxic levels of chemicals, especialy true in high heat and humidity. Image the exposure for those living near a vinyl manufacturing plant! Those exposed to toxic levels of these chemicals are most at risk for developing cancer, neurological damage, birth defects, lung and kidney diseases. Vinyl is most dangerous when being manufactured and during its disposal; in a landfill, it is a threat to groundwater via the release of dioxins and other toxins as the materials break down.
Safe Siding Alternatives
Now knowing the possible health effects of vinyl siding, below is a list of products that still require no painting and only the occasional power-washing to maintain their appearance.
- Aluminum siding has similar benefits to vinyl siding. You can more often find recycled aluminum siding products. The downside is that aluminum siding can dent and is very hard to work with, in terms of construction.
- Steel or enameled steel siding: The plus is it can come pre-painted; the minus is the greater expense.
- Bark shingles: Experts recommend bark shingles because they’re economical, are a salvage product, and are great for someone who wants a natural look. After all, nature made them to cover a tree for 100 years.
- Cement siding: The look is similar to clapboards and also can come pre-painted.
Yes, living healthy in an industrialized society takes effort and homework…that’s exactly why I’m writing this series in keeping my commitment of Health thru Education…you asked…so I’m on a hunt for clues to assist you in building a healthier environment, naturally.
Uncovering Clues to Add LIFE to Your Years…NOT Merely Years to Your Life, Naturally
Dr. Gloria Gilbère (aka Dr. G), N.D., D.A.Hom., Ph.D., D.S.C.,
EcoErgonomist, Wholistic Rejuvenist
Dr. Gilbère is renowned worldwide for her work in identifying and finding natural solutions to chemically-induced and inflammatory disorders, multiple chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Gulf War Syndrome, and digestive disorders that defy conventional diagnosis and treatment. She consults worldwide via telephone and at her Institute in north Idaho. Visit her website at www.gloriagilbere.com for details about consulting with her.
Creator of certificated courses to become a Wholistic Rejuvenist™ (CWR) and for post-graduate education for health and spa professionals. Go to www.gloriagilbere.com and click on Wholistic Skin & Body Rejuvenation (WSBR™) for course outline. Available on-site at worldwide locations, and via distance-learning at your convenience globally.
Published by Institute for Wholistic Rejuvenation – ©2010 Gloria E. Gilbère, LLC, all rights reserved.
Information in this newsletter is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by medical professionals, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a disease or disorder. The FDA has not reviewed or endorsed the contents of this educational publication.
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