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Vinyl. Material for life

Material for life

Vinyl is the world’s most thoroughly researched and widely used plastic. It can be used to make everything from intravenous tubing to flooring -- vinyl is extremely versatile.  Read further to learn about some of the benefits and advantages of vinyl as well as common myths about this superior product.

Benefits of vinyl

Vinyl is truly one material with infinite uses. All this versatility helps make vinyl the third-largest volume plastic produced in North America. From the vinyl resin producers to those who extrude the resin into pipe, siding, flooring, wall covering, packaging and energy-efficient windows and roofs, the vinyl industry provides over 350,000 jobs in North America and represents $54.5 billion in economic output.Vinyl will not rot or corrode making it extremely hygienic. It is inherently flame retardant, slow to burn and will self-extinguish when removed from fire. It is impermeable to water making it ideal for blood bags, packaging and even flooring.

Advantages of vinyl

• Does not rot or corrode
• Flame retardant
• Extremely hygienic
• Minimal off gassing, low VOCs
• Versatility
• Energy efficient production

Benefits of vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is also called “resilient” flooring because it characteristically “bounces back” from the weight of objects that compress its surface. This attribute combined with its impressive durability contribute to a long life expectancy. Vinyl flooring is frequently used in healthcare facilities because it is impervious to water, offering a significant sanitary advantage over carpeting. These characteristics are particularly important in hospital rooms, extended care facilities, nursing homes and day care centers.

Welded seams between sheets replace grout lines and prevent contaminants or water from penetrating to the subfloor below.
This makes vinyl an excellent choice for wet areas such as showers, pool surrounds, and even commercial kitchens. Pound for pound vinyl is more durable than many competing flooring materials. This allows vinyl flooring to be thinner and lighter while still offering impressive durability. This makes vinyl especially useful in the transit industry and explains why it is used on the majority of buses in North America.

Advantages of vinyl flooring

• Uses less energy in the manufacturing phase than most competing products
• Boasts a lower carbon footprint than most common consumables
• Can be recycled many times over without compromising performance
• Inherently flame retardant, self-extinguishing once the source of flame is removed
• Lighter, on average, than other flooring materials reducing fuel consumption in transit

Myths and truths

Myth: Vinyl off gasses and has lots of VOCs.  

Fact: Every product, regardless of what it is made of, off gasses.  Vinyl is no different. Altro safety flooring has been tested to the CA 01350 standard, the basis for FloorScore and other programs and reports low VOC emissions.  Altro Whiterock has also been tested and is so low, that it falls below detectable limits.

Myth: Vinyl emits dioxins, which are bad for the environment.

Fact: Dioxin is the name of a family of chemical compounds that are unintentional by-products of industrial, non-industrial and natural processes usually involving combustion.  It is an environmental pollutant.  
Vinyl is an extremely small source of dioxin, so small that levels in the environment would be essentially unchanged even if vinyl were not being manufactured and used every day in important products. The vinyl industry has studied and worked to reduce its contribution to dioxin.  In fact, vinyl manufacturing creates on the order of seven grams of dioxin each year.  That is 7 out of the 1,422 produced each year.   Other dioxin sources include forest fires, volcanoes, burning wood in fireplaces, exhaust from diesel-powered vehicles, and manufacture of other building materials. Overall dioxin levels in the environment have been declining for decades, according to data from the U.S. Environmental protection agency (EPA) and are now approximately 7 times less than what they were in 1987.  During this time, production and use of vinyl have more than tripled.  Clearly the source of dioxins is not PVC.

Myth: PVC includes DEHP and other unhealthy phthalates.

Fact: Altro safety flooring products have NEVER contained DEHP and,  since January 2011, no longer contain phthalates.  Instead we use a renewable, bio-based plasticizer derived from maize to make our flooring flexible.  Altro Whiterock is a rigid, unplasticized PVC, and therefore has never contained phthalates.  

Myth: PVC contains heavy metals & toxic ingredients.

Fact: Altro safety flooring does not contain lead, cadmium or any other heavy metals such as hexavalent chromium. It also is free from formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, found in most composite wood products like particleboard and plywood. Formaldehyde is also commonly found in carpeting.

Myth: Vinyl isn’t safe.

Fact: Vinyl is one of the most researched and tested plastics.  It has been successfully used for over 40 years in healthcare as critically important products such as IV tubing and blood bags.

Myth: Vinyl can’t be recycled.

Fact: More than 1 billion pounds of vinyl are recycled annually. Due to the aggressive nature of Altro’s slip resistant aggregate particles, recycling was once thought impossible but, in 2007, Altro launched the world’s first in-house safety flooring recycling machine.  Now, Altro recycles more than 500 tons of vinyl factory waste every year and turns it back into new safety flooring.
With the addition of Recofloor and Recowall, Altro has been able to recycle more than 1500 tons of flooring and 40 tons of Altro Whiterock.

Myth: Vinyl is dangerous in building fires

Fact: Vinyl is inherently flame retardant and once you remove the flame source it will self-extinguish. This is one of the reasons that vinyl is the material of choice for electrical conduit. In a large building fire vinyl will burn and like any organic material generate toxic substances. When vinyl burns, it produces hydrogen chloride. HCL has a very pungent aroma and may quickly alert people to the presence of a fire unlike carbon monoxide, which is odorless and known as a silent killer.  

Myth: Vinyl is not safe to incinerate.

Fact: Any waste containing chlorine including food waste and wood has the potential to generate dioxins during the incineration process. The operating conditions in modern municipal incinerators are closely controlled allowing waste vinyl to be safely incinerated without the generation of dioxins.