Phthalates in construction articles

In document Hazardous chemicals in construction products (Page 36-39)

The material for this section of the report mainly comes from the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s previous report on phthalates30, and has also been supplemented by more recent information from the flooring sector. The construction industry is the sector where PVC is used most of all31. PVC is the most commonly used polymer in building and construction applications32. More than 60% of Europe’s annual PVC production is used in this sector, which includes a large volume of soft PVC32. According to earlier information supplied by the PVC Forum (2007), more than 80% of the PVC manufactured in Sweden is used in the construction industry31. Examples of the uses in the building and construction industry include cladding, as well as roofing membranes, in cables and wires, flooring and wall coverings32, profiles for doors and windows, coated panels31 as well as PVC sealant tape and sealant between concrete blocks in dyke structures33. Other examples are plastic laminate, flexible plastic hoses and pipes, paint and varnish, insulating material, protection tape and plastic film, sandpaper, sealant strips for windows and doors, roll-up garage doors, water hoses, valve connectors, tools with plastic handles and toolboxes.

30 Swedish Chemicals Agency 2014, Report 4/15, Phthalates which are toxic for reproduction and endocrine- disrupting – proposals for a phase-out in Sweden

31 PVC Forum, 2007, PVC idag och imorgon (PVC today and tomorrow). 32, 2014. Building & construction. Available: 02.04.2014

33 Blomfeldt T, Bergsjö P, 2013. Utvärdering av egenskaperna hos fogband i mjukgjord PVC för betongkonstruktioner – Korrelation mellan accelererad åldring, långtidsexponering och fogband i drift (Assessment of properties of soft PVC sealant tape for concrete structures – Correlation between accelerated ageing, long-time exposure and sealant tape in operation). Elforsk Report 13:39

Chemical products are also used within the construction sector, such as paints, sealants and adhesives, which may contain phthalates.

3.3.1 Flooring

Most PVC floor coverings are manufactured by combining plasticisers with PVC powder to form a liquid paste known as “plastisol”. It is applied in several layers to build up the floor, which comprises a foam core and a decorative layer and hard covering34. There is also homogeneous plastic flooring. PVC floors often have a service life of more than 20 years. As PVC flooring provides a level, smooth surface, making it easy to clean, it is often used in hospitals and other healthcare institutions, as well as in other public buildings such as schools and pre-school facilities, and also in offices and bathrooms. PVC flooring is also cheaper than many other options.

It was estimated that in 2014, 5.8 million m2 of both PVC and non-PVC plastic flooring was sold in Sweden35.

According to the flooring sector in Sweden, GBE, there are currently two major

manufacturers of flooring and wall products made from PVC. Neither of them use phthalates as plasticisers in their products, switching instead to DINCH36 or vegetable-based plasticisers. There is also a similar trend in the rest of the EU. Other manufacturers of PVC flooring in the EU mainly use the phthalates DINP and DIDP. There are also other types of plastic flooring, such as polyolefin flooring. Occasionally, a very thin surface layer of polyurethane is applied to increase slip resistance or polyurethane is combined in the PVC flooring. An example of the plasticiser concentration range in PVC flooring is 15-20%. Examples of other plasticisers used for flooring are Mesamoll (alkylsulphonic acid esters) and DOTP.

3.3.2 Wall coverings

PVC wall coverings are designed most often for use in wet rooms. They are composed of three layers: a decorative layer, which has prints and colours applied, an intermediate layer, which is soft, and a backing, which provides the covering with strength37.

It was estimated that in 2013 approx. 1.1 million m2 of plastic wall covering was sold in Sweden.

PVC wall coverings come in different thicknesses and can last for 20 years. As no cracks appear on the covering and it is easy to keep clean, this makes it suitable for places where there is a great deal of wear and tear or there are stringent hygiene requirements, such as in hospitals and schools.

One example of plasticiser concentration in a wet-room wall covering is 13%.

34, 2014. Flooring. Available: 02.04.2014

35 Flooring industry, 2012. Textila golv ökade starkt (Textile flooring saw strong growth). Flooring industry activity report 2012. endast-statistik.pdf

36 Di-isononyl-cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylate

37, 2014. Wall coverings. Available: 2014-04-02.


Emissions of hazardous substances from

construction products

The declared content of substances of a construction product is not necessarily identical to the substances emitted from the product as emissions can, for instance, be produced by

degradation or reaction products. Even in cases where it is the constituent substance which is actually emitted, any information about the content of substances is often simply not

sufficient to be able to assess which substances will be emitted from the construction product into the indoor air, and to what extent.

Emissions of a substance from a material depend on various factors, including the

characteristics of both the substance and material, as well as on the conditions in the indoor environment, such as the temperature, ventilation and air humidity. The emissions may also change as a material gets older or wears out. An important difference in how different substances are emitted from construction products is apparent between volatile organic compounds (VOC) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC). In the case of VOCs, the extent of the emissions is dependant on the concentration of the substance in the material, where a high concentration of the substance in the material produces a high level of

emissions. However, VOCs evaporate relatively quickly, resulting in the emissions tailing off within a couple of months up to a year. Emissions of SVOCs are less dependent on substance concentration in a material. However, emissions of SVOCs can be problematic as the

emissions can continue for a long time. VOCs which have been emitted from a material often occur in air, whereas SVOCs can be present in both air and dust. Dust has been shown to be a major source of exposure for children38 and there are a number of initiatives going on aimed at investigating dust further as a source of exposure, including as part of health-related environmental monitoring39 and research studies on endocrine disruptors in dust 40.

The existing voluntary evaluation systems for construction products in Sweden often include criteria linked to content, whereas information about emissions is very sparse. In some cases, criteria for information about total emission of volatile organic compounds (TVOC) are included, either as a concentration or emission factor, whereas there are no criteria for individual substances in any of the systems.

Particles may also occur in the indoor environment. But, in this case, sources other than construction products are considered to have a significant role in this. Transport from outdoor air and human activities such as cooking and cleaning, burning candles, using sprays or laser printers is considered to make a significant contribution to the occurrence of particles in indoor air41. Among the construction products, it is mainly paints which have the potential to produce particles indoors42. As particles from construction products are considered to have a small impact on the indoor environment, they will not be dealt with any further in this chapter.

38 Swedish Chemicals Agency 2013, Report 8/13 “Barns exponering för kemiska ämnen i förskolan” (Children's exposure to hazardous substances in pre-school environment).

39 40

41 Morawska L., Afshari A., Bae G.N., Buonanno G., Chao C.Y.H., Hänninen O., Hofman W., Isaxon C., Jayaratne E.R., Pasanen, P., Salthammer, T., Waring, M., Wierzbicka, A., 2013. Indoor aerosols: from personal exposure to risk assessment. Indoor Air 23, 462-487.

42 Lazaridis M., Serfozo N., Chatoutsidou S.E., Glytsos T., 2015. New particle formation events arising from painting materials in an indoor microenvironment. Atmospheric Environment 102, 86-95.

VOCs have been defined in different ways in different contexts. In this report, we will adhere throughout to the definition given by the forthcoming harmonised standard for measuring VOC emissions – prEN 16516 (see Glossary and key terms). The same standard also includes a definition for SVOCs, which we will also adhere to throughout the report.

In document Hazardous chemicals in construction products (Page 36-39)