Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture misleads viewers on the merits of vinyl siding. Watch here to get the facts…
Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture misleads viewers on the merits of vinyl siding. Watch here to get the facts…
We’ve written extensively here at Vinyl Verified about the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association’s (DIPRA) years-long misinformation campaign to deceive the public about PVC pipe. We thought we’d take a look back at the iron pipe industry, and the many ways it’s distorted the facts to protect its failing monopoly, and line its pockets at the expense of American taxpayers.
1. DIPRA represents old-technology iron pipe manufacturers. About a hundred years ago, the iron pipe industry produced one of the few materials that could deliver water underground. But that’s not the case anymore.
2. America’s infrastructure is deteriorating, and the vast majority of pipe material that’s crumbling underground today is made of cast iron.
3. But thick-walled cast iron pipe is too too expensive to use today. So the iron pipe industry had to figure out another solution.
4. So DIPRA’s members started producing “ductile iron pipe,” because it’s cheaper to manufacture and transport. DIPRA desperately wants the public to believe ductile iron pipe is the toughest material on the market today. But that’s not true. …
5. Ductile iron pipe’s walls are considerably thinner than cast iron. And it requires a cement liner, which degrades and cracks over time, driving up pumping costs.
6. In an attempt to make ductile iron pipe last longer, ductile iron pipe users must pay for corrosion prevention control methods which are mostly ineffective (DIPRA doesn’t talk much about that. …)
7. And like cast iron pipe, ductile iron pipe is prone to corrosion, which is one of the main reasons our nation’s underground pipe infrastructure is crumbling.
8. For a long time, the iron pipe industry was accustomed to being the only game in town.
9. Fortunately, material innovations have taken place over the last 60 years that no longer limit taxpayers to pipe materials that corrode and break years before they should.
10. One such product is PVC pipe, which has become the material of choice for a growing number of municipalities across America in replacing their old corroding iron pipes.
11. PVC pipe lasts twice as long as ductile iron pipe. It’s more durable and affordable, too.
12. But DIPRA’s members don’t like other materials competing with them. So DIPRA has embarked on a distortion campaign to mislead the public about PVC pipe. The group even funded a flawed study that misquoted a notable scientist regarding PVC pipe’s longevity. And when those errors were pointed out to DIPRA, the group not only didn’t correct the study – they kept on promoting it.
13. What’s more, DIPRA is trying to make iron pipe the ONLY material available to select municipalities. They’ve sent letters, like this one, pressuring mayors across the country to block open competition and exclude PVC pipe from the material decision table.
14. DIPRA doesn’t want its members to compete fairly with PVC pipe, because they know it will loosen the iron pipe industry’s grip over the marketplace.
15. But even kids know that fair competition benefits consumers -- because it lowers prices and fuels innovation.
16. And the facts show that when open competition for water pipe materials occurs, municipalities can save approximately 30 to 50 percent even when iron pipe is the selected material.
17. Because that’s what open competition does. It benefits everyone.
18. Open competition also allows city engineers to have complete authority to make their own material choices.
19. But DIPRA is working hard to stifle competition because it doesn’t serve the interests of iron pipe manufacturers. The iron pipe industry wants total command over the market, where it can charge cities whatever they please – and force Americans to pay thousands more for an inferior material that lasts roughly half as long as PVC pipe.
20. Burton, MI found that its installed ductile iron pipe lasted only 15 years. So Burton’s mayor opted to replace its pipes with PVC pipe. And now the city has clean, reliable water service at a fraction of the cost.
21. And more cities around the nation are doing the same.
These are the facts. And we will continue to tell them, so that the public understands what the iron pipe industry is doing to put its own interests above those of hard working American taxpayers.
A quick read of a recent piece in Builder Online about new-home construction siding options misleads readers to think that all non-wood siding materials, including vinyl, carry a heavy environmental impact. A closer look reveals that the article is actually a paid advertisement by the engineered wood siding makers at Louisiana-Pacific (LP) Corporation – which spreads falsehoods and deceives readers about its competitors simply to promote its own product line.
LP’s distortions conveniently ignore the fact that vinyl siding offers far more environmental advantages over its entire life cycle than engineered wood siding. Vinyl siding is built to last, where warranties guaranteeing its service life typically extend 40-50 years. LP’s Smartside warranty starts to diminish after just five years – which imposes a cumulative burden on the environment based on the frequent need to repair or replace Smartside material over a building’s lifetime.
We’re puzzled that LP would expect readers to take its environmental claims seriously when the company hasn’t published any LCA data whatsoever on its Smartside product line. We’ll base our positions on the facts: vinyl siding is one of the best environmental performance products on the market. That conclusion is supported by BEES, the official life cycle analysis (LCA) tool administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). What’s more, the certification program by Home Innovation Research Labs – a leading green products listing group – cites the environmental attributes of a number of polymeric sidings, including vinyl siding. (LP’s Smartside didn’t make the list.)
LP irresponsibly misleads readers to believe vinyl siding contributes to the small particles of plastic in our environment – but that’s not the case. Such pollution is primarily caused by the improper disposal of single use plastic consumer products. Vinyl siding removed from buildings at the end of its service life typically isn’t irresponsibly disposed or thrown into the ocean – any portion that isn’t recycled is usually landfilled, minimizing the chance that any material particles will be released over time. LP conveniently omits this in its advertisement.
LP deceives the public about dioxin emissions, too. Burning wood, whether in fireplaces, forest fires, or accidental fires is a major source of dioxin emissions to air and water. The company’s claim that vinyl siding is a significant contributor of it is categorically false. For this reason: The production of vinyl products, including vinyl siding, has grown dramatically over the past 25 years – but the dioxin level in our environment has decreased by more than 90 percent over the same time period. It’s further proof LP’s distortions about vinyl siding are competitively driven and entirely unreliable.
We’re curious how Builder Online would allow such a grossly inaccurate advertisement, formatted to look as if it was a piece of original content, to appear on its website.
Readers deserve far better than this.
When journalists pretend to be experts on topics they know little about, their readers are ultimately the ones who suffer. Lauren Cahn of Reader’s Digest is a good example.
In a recent story entitled, “15 Things in Your Home That Can Cause Cancer,” Ms. Cahn mixes unscientific analysis with out-of-context findings to give readers the false impression that perfectly safe consumer products might be hazardous to human health. In what can only be described as a clickbait hit job, her story cites dubious content – and drives an uninformed perspective that only serves to instill irrational fear among her readers.
And Reader’s Digest bears notable responsibility here, too, for allowing Ms. Cahn’s careless story to appear. To see this once respected publication stoop to such a low standard is just the latest example of how race-to-the-bottom-journalism has perpetuated rampant misinformation about vinyl material.
Ms. Cahn’s piece relies on rumors, long refuted speculation, and holistic living websites. And she irresponsibly perpetuates the notion that exposure, at any level, can create a human health risk – when the facts show that simply isn’t true. It’s the amount of exposure, and the specific chemical, that matters.
But Ms. Cahn completely dismisses this basic scientific principle and, instead, offers a slew of misguided advice across a wide spectrum of products and chemicals. We’ll focus specifically on her distortions regarding vinyl and PVC. And our analysis will lean heavily on the scientific record:
Firefighters display their valor every day by confronting dangerous situations on behalf of a grateful American public. We owe it to them to ensure they have the most state-of-the-art equipment available, and give them every possible advantage to courageously combat the unimaginable environments they face where human lives are often at stake.
A particular technology has helped an increasing number of firefighters perform their heroism under optimum working conditions in recent decades. Surprisingly, many of them have likely never seen it, because it lies underground. And while this advancement doesn’t receive much praise or attention, it’s expected to be a centerpiece of the upcoming Congressional effort to improve our nation’s water infrastructure.
It’s PVC water pipe. And communities nationwide are using it to replace failing iron pipe at a record pace. That’s understandable, because PVC pipe is the more sustainable, long-term choice for meeting the needs of Americans, including our nation’s firefighters. Its lightweight composition requires less energy to transport compared to heavy iron pipe. And its longevity results in fewer breakages and road repairs, which in turn reduces traffic disruptions that not only frustrate commuters, but can create costly delays for our firefighters, too.
Iron pipe is prone to corrosion (PVC pipe is not), which is largely why iron pipes have been breaking at an alarming rate. Reports of iron pipe failures skyrocketed during the stretch of freezing temperatures that blanketed the east coast in recent months. One such iron pipe break in the DC-Metro area caused a horrific mix of water and sewage to damage at least six local residences.
Iron pipe’s limitations create real world complications for firefighters. These brave men and women depend on good pressure to arrest the spread of fire. Corrosion not only weakens iron pipe, but over time, the diameter of iron pipe narrows, which restricts the flow of water and reduces overall water pressure. This is one of the many reasons why Burton, MI Mayor Paula Zelenko elected to replace her city’s broken iron pipe system with PVC pipe. “Fire protection is, indeed, improved by PVC in Burton,” she wrote. “The lower costs of PVC allowed us to replace more lines, servicing more homes, hydrants, and getting the water to the fire with good pressure instead of it failing through the corrosion of old pipes or breaking the old lines entirely due to water pressure.”
Firefighters can’t afford to question whether high-pressure water will be available to them when they arrive at a scene when every second counts. We can’t risk a broken iron water main, or a corroded iron pipe that can’t deliver, to impede their ability to do their job when lives are on the line. Firefighters put themselves at risk every day in the name of public safety. The least we can do is provide them with the most advanced tools and material resources that will best equip them to pursue their noble mission.
As electronic waste continues to grow at alarming and unsustainable rates, one can conclude that Greenpeace’s decades long campaign to rate electronics manufacturers is an utter failure.
But Greenpeace continues to honor specific manufacturers in its annual rating of these companies that haven’t taken any measurable steps to reduce their global waste production.
Why? The answer lies in the extremist group’s obsession with PVC and other materials – and its refusal to confront the real issues regarding electronics waste buildup around the world.
The 2017 edition of Greenpeace’s annual “Guide to Greener Electronics” predictably distorts the facts on PVC – and recommends ill-conceived proposals that exacerbate the impact discarded electronics products have on our environment.
Greenpeace’s agenda-driven opposition to PVC is well documented. For decades, the extremist organization has misled the public about PVC, and tried to force companies to capitulate to its demands to remove the material from their products.
The group’s electronics guide is no different, as it compels manufacturers who wish to receive a star review that they must avoid using PVC altogether.
But that very advice is contributing to the overwhelming number of electronics that are being thrown away in record numbers – often in landfills around the world– each and every year. From 2014 to 2016, electronics waste (also known as “e-waste”) increased eight percent, totaling nearly 100 billion pounds. And that figure is expected to rise another 17 percent by 2021.
The most effective way this trend can reverse itself is if electronics companies are incentivized to reuse their own plastic. Companies must be encouraged to establish recovery programs where they can recycle their parts and materials. This would lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of e-waste we generate every year, and would help curb the buildup of electronics products destined for landfills across the country, and around the world.
Instead, Greenpeace recommendations focus on restricting materials, and dissuading companies from using PVC– a material with proven life-cycle environmental advantages that can be recovered and reused to minimize landfill waste. It seems Greenpeace would rather see electronics manufacturers use inferior materials that have nowhere near the longevity, durability, recyclability, and cost-efficiency, of PVC.
That’s not empty rhetoric. One major electronics producer discontinued using PVC in its power cords after enduring intimidation by Greenpeace – only to find that the replacement material they chose was not nearly as strong. The products would break repeatedly, affecting millions of customers, where many users simply threw them away – forcing these customers to prematurely replace their failed power cords.
How, exactly, does that serve the best interests of the environment?
Today, some companies go to extreme lengths to use post-consumer plastic simply to appease groups like Greenpeace, when such practices yield a negative environmental result. Some electronics manufacturers ship ground-up plastic water bottles half way around the world just to they can say they use the material in their products. The carbon footprint of such policies is enormous and entirely unsustainable. And it would make far more sense for these companies to establish programs where they are able to reuse their own materials, including PVC, again and again.
But Greenpeace’s ideological opposition toward PVC and other safe substances incapacitates any such rational or practical thinking, even when it stands to make a positive environmental impact.
If Greenpeace really wanted to confront the e-waste problem, it would call on manufacturers to set their material take-back rate equal to the growth of global e-waste production – which would create a neutral environmental impact going forward.
Instead, the organization continues to pressure companies to change material composition, which hasn’t addressed the growing problem of e-waste around the world. Greenpeace prefers to scare readers with disingenuous scenarios about PVC disposal. And the electronics guide tries to incite hysteria about burning electronics that might contain PVC – when it clearly knows that such illegal open-burning practices emit a plethora of persistent and bio-accumulative toxins from a host of materials in these devices, whether PVC is present or not. The idea that eliminating PVC would somehow make uncontrolled burning safer is entirely false and remarkably deceiving.
But what’s most puzzling is the fact that the electronics guide praises certain companies, rewarding them with a favorable rating, for adopting Greenpeace’s illogical policies when these very manufacturers haven’t made a calculable contribution toward reducing their e-waste generation.
The statistics confirm that Greenpeace’s policies on e-waste haven’t achieved any real progress. Greenpeace first began its electronics campaign two decades ago. And with e-waste expected to rise another 17 percent over the next three years, the group’s fixation on PVC – and refusal to examine the larger issues of landfill diversion – prove its recommendations have failed to address the core problem.
If Greenpeace is truly committed to reducing the impact of e-waste, it would put aside its anti-PVC agenda – and confront the real threats regarding the growing amount of e-waste in our planet’s landfills.
The Healthy Building Network (HBN) has reminded us yet again why Vinyl Verified is necessary to fact check the group’s reckless distortions about PVC. HBN, which has a financial motivation to mislead the public about vinyl, is now using its same tired tactics to take aim at PVC products in carpet backing. In its latest piece, the group engages in wild speculation, misstates the findings of important studies, and misrepresents the PVC production process, all for the purpose of inciting groundless consumer fear and hysteria regarding these products.
This isn’t anything new. HBN has a long, undeniable history of deceiving the public on PVC. We’ve documented them here, here, and here. The group’s statements and baseless claims against our industry have revealed an extraordinary lack of factual understanding and credibility regarding important matters involving PVC. Here’s what this particular analysis gets wrong.
HBN’s focus on PVC production isn’t just misleading, it’s rife with errors. The section kicks off by mentioning two classes of chemicals- heavy metal stabilizers and organotins, which aren’t even used in flexible PVC- to base its claim of alleged product toxicity.
HBN also continues to misrepresent the use of asbestos in the chlor-alkali process:
HBN wants you to think most plasticized PVC contains added flame retardants, but that’s not true. The chloride bound in the backbone of the vinyl molecule provides enough flame retardant to meet the needs of most plasticized vinyl applications. And because of its low heat release and self-extinguishing characteristics, PVC has been widely shown to be safer in a house fire, as it can help give occupants more time to escape.
Nevertheless, HBN’s study conveys the irresponsible impression that chemicals in PVC are uniquely harmful to the environment. As an example, HBN demands a stricter standard on the use of antimony trioxide flame retardant in PVC than what is typically found in ordinary plastic water bottles. The group makes a laundry list of other alleged health risks without providing any corroborating evidence. And its focus on halogenated flame retardants in asserting a perceived health risk regarding PVC is incredibly disingenuous, especially since most of these chemicals have been discontinued as part of the industry’s commitment to continued innovation.
Similarly, HBN’s assertion that burning PVC products is uniquely toxic is completely absurd. Burning anything- including wood- releases persistent and bioaccumulative toxic substances. Yet HBN makes no mention of this, and exclusively singles out PVC as part of its financially-driven campaign to mislead the public about the material.
Today’s plasticized vinyl materials are designed to retain the plasticizer for decades of safe use. HBN tries desperately to position phthalates in PVC as harmful to consumers, but many of our nation’s very own regulatory agencies disagree with this misguided claim. Even the State of California – known for applying some of the toughest environmental regulations in the country – has issued Safe Use Determinations for listed plasticizers used in flooring, carpet, and roofing materials. Phthalates are used in a wide variety of consumer products regulated by various government bodies, and certain phthalate use in consumer products has been extensively studied and regularly found to be safe.
To say the issue has been addressed and studied extensively would be a spectacular understatement. There are more than 1,000 articles on phthalates in the scientific literature. And HBN’s claim of a potential health risk is simply not credible, as it’s based exclusively on results of high-dose rodent experiments. Yet HBN continues to ignore the scientific facts that show direct correlation to humans is not possible because humans metabolize phthalates differently than rodents. As an analogy, raisins are toxic to dogs' kidneys but do not have a similar effect on humans. But no one is claiming we should stop feeding our children raisins because they make dogs sick.
A pattern of omissions and misrepresentations is consistent throughout HBN’s carpet study. HBN’s assertions constitute a litany of scientifically unsound claims alleging consequences and links to various ailments – yet HBN can’t point to a single epidemiological study to support them.
Not surprisingly, they use this flawed data to create the impression that the current regulatory framework has gaps. But the regulatory framework HBN calls for is already in place.
Environmental regulators have extensively reviewed PVC products, and many are certified with Environmental Product Declarations, which help quantify a product’s overall environmental impact.
Worse, the ratings systems HBN recommends are decidedly less scientific. That’s because they eschew life cycle analysis – which is critical in establishing the sustainability of any product.
And many of the green standards HBN touts fail to disclose important details regarding their evaluation process, raising appropriate questions regarding the scientific integrity of their results. Not coincidentally, the organizations backing these standards often produce documents like this one – replete with inaccuracies and unsubstantiated conclusions.
Similarly, HBN’s recent study isn’t based on any sort of rigorous scientific analysis. It is, however, a perfect example of the group’s decade-long, agenda-driven distortion effort to misinform the public about PVC.
As we’ve said before: Everyone has the right to his or her own viewpoint. And everyone has the right to earn a living, as long as it’s within the law. But those who mislead the public do not have the right to be taken seriously – and that’s especially true when representatives at HBN continue to intentionally conflate the facts to perpetuate misinformation about the topics they address.
On 10/17, The New York Times posted a video that made a baseless claim about PVC - without citing any source to support it.
The NYT also defied its own journalism responsibility to ensure balance by failing to include any comment from the PVC industry.
We reached out privately with a letter to the NYT’s Executive Producer of VR, Ms. Marcelle Hopkins, addressing our concerns. But she ignored us.
So we’re posting that letter here to ensure viewers have the facts.
November 2, 2017
Ms. Marcelle Hopkins
Executive Producer, VR
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Dear Ms. Hopkins,
A recent video installment of the New York Times Daily 360 series [“Ride a Weather Balloon Into (Near) Space”; 10/17] misleads viewers by irresponsibly claiming a connection between PVC production and the earth’s ozone layer – without identifying any source to support it.
The New York Times ignored basic journalism standards by failing to provide the public with any substantive facts to defend this claim. Instead, the narrator cites a mysterious and unnamed “study” to validate the assertion. What’s more, the New York Times defied its obligation to provide viewers with proper context and balance, which would have enabled them to evaluate the statement’s legitimacy based on a totality of the facts. Instead, the narrator blindly makes the allegation, and falsely expects New York Times viewers to simply believe it at face value.
That doesn’t cut it, because readers and viewers of online news content demand more – and deserve more – from organizations that wish to be viewed with even a modicum of credibility.
At issue is the narrator’s assertion that “a longstanding hole in the ozone layer had begun to close, but a recently released study found that new chemicals used for paint stripping and in PVC may set the process back by several decades.” That’s as specific as it gets. The information is presented as fact, yet the Times neglected to reveal the source of this information, or the chemical in question. Beyond these glaring omissions, no one from the New York Times reached out to the Vinyl Institute, the leading industry representative of U.S. PVC producers, to offer an opportunity to address or dispute the claim.
This isn’t just bad journalism – it’s a failure of the Times to uphold its own basic commitment to “truth” in journalism, to, “whatever the medium, tell our audiences the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.” This unfounded allegation about PVC production fails to meet that standard, and in doing so does a disservice to Times readers. As such, we ask the section time-stamped :50-:58 be immediately removed from the video, so that viewers are not further deceived by these misleading statements regarding PVC material.
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
The Vinyl Institute