Living Building Chronicle Perpetuates Activist Rhetoric on PVC

Living Building Chronicle Perpetuates Activist Rhetoric on PVC

A recent piece by Living Building Chronicle, published by the Kendeda Fund, contains a series of broad mischaracterizations about PVC that require correction.  What’s interesting is that the author, Ken Edelstein, goes to great lengths to promote a PVC material competitor, raising reasonable questions regarding a possible hidden motivation driving this story. Regardless, we’ll take the opportunity to ensure the facts are reflected for the record.

Setting the Record Straight on Solar Distortion and Vinyl Siding

Setting the Record Straight on Solar Distortion and Vinyl Siding

We here at Vinyl Verified monitor press coverage about vinyl matters every day to ensure the facts about the material prevail throughout the public discourse.  

Recently, we noticed a sudden spike in stories containing misleading and inaccurate information about “solar distortion,” a so-called phenomenon where reflected sunlight from a specific type of modern window can melt vinyl siding on nearby structures.  

A closer look revealed that many of these segments were exactly the same. They featured the same script and video footage in their stories. And further research showed that a similar report containing the same misinformation was previously aired by numerous news outlets in 2015 and again in 2017.  

It turns out these stations simply re-aired a pre-packaged segment provided to them by an outside organization, where reporters failed to do any original research or fact-checking of their own.

That’s not sound journalism. And when it misleads the public, it does a disservice to viewers.

We’ll take this opportunity to clarify the facts.     

The Facts on Solar Distortion

Solar distortion happens when sunlight is concentrated and reflected by modern, energy efficient window panes onto a neighbor’s property. These newer windows reflect sunlight at a much higher intensity than older window designs. Heat generated by that reflection can cause damage to a wide variety of materials, including furniture, vehicles, and–under rare circumstances–vinyl siding.

The chances of solar distortion affecting your home? Extremely small. Vinyl siding has been the most popular siding option, due to its durability and affordability, for almost two decades, and only a very small fraction of houses with vinyl siding have been impacted by solar distortion. And it’s nowhere near the epidemic the press desperately wants viewers to believe.  

It takes a unique and specific set of circumstances for solar distortion to impact vinyl siding. If your house has not been affected in the past, it is not likely to be affected in the future. This can change, however, if windows are replaced (either on your home or your neighbor’s) with ones that are more likely to concentrate the sunlight, or if something that blocked sunlight (like a tree) is removed.

How the Media Gets it Wrong

The important takeaway here is that this “phenomenon” is not caused in any way by vinyl siding. It’s caused by newer “low-e” windows that are installed on nearby structures where the light happens to reflect in a particular way. And that key fact is often overlooked or under-emphasized by reporters who cover this issue.   

As we noted above, news stations across the country are running a pre-packaged, four-year-old report on solar distortion provided to them by Angie’s List. Angie’s List pitched the same video to news outlets back in 2015. Now media outlets are airing the exact same advertisement “story” again – without doing any fact-checking of their own. Our research shows that this exact same segment, word-for-word, ran on almost a dozen stations in 8 cities.  

The segment is a recycled, air-time-filler that spends its entirety critiquing vinyl siding. And that’s odd, because Angie’s List has, in the past, touted the many benefits of vinyl on other occasions. The recent report claims there is some ambiguity as to who is at fault when windows damage vinyl siding. But in every case, the evidence is overwhelming that energy efficient windows are at fault for causing the damage.

Contractors and homeowners alike choose vinyl siding because it’s affordable, stylish, durable and efficient. Consumers deserve to have the facts about the material, instead of being subjected to misleading claims by news outlets that have done no original reporting of their own on the issue.

What the Environmental Working Group isn’t telling you about Vinyl Products

What the Environmental Working Group isn’t telling you about Vinyl Products

In the last few weeks, EWG  has put out a series of alarmist, inaccurate, and misleading posts about vinyl products. In each of these pieces, EWG has claimed, without question or substantiation, that vinyl products are harmful and should be avoided. But this approach of immediately sounding the alarm on certain products without explaining whether and what health risks actually exist lacks the scientific rigor to which EWG claims to aspire.

Correcting the Record on Vinyl AND Phthalates

WDIO-TV (Duluth, MN) made irresponsible claims about vinyl and phthalates in a segment that aired on 12/6/18.

We’re here to expose their alarmist rhetoric and share the facts. 

Responding to Misleading Social Posts on Luxury Vinyl Plank

Responding to Misleading Social Posts on Luxury Vinyl Plank

Dear vinyl flooring competitors,

Did you really think the public would be swayed by that anonymous Internet post some of you are circulating about Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) tile?  You know … the one containing a slew of factual distortions and misleading statements about vinyl flooring products?



The Center for Environmental Fear Mongering Health (CEH) released a report containing a slew of distortions and competitively-motivated claims about PVC pipe.  Here’s what CEH conceals in its irresponsible attempt to mislead readers:


PVC pipe’s safety is well documented.

All PVC pipes in circulation adhere to a strict national standard (NSF 61) to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water. In fact, all pipe materials are tested and screened under this rigid standard. CEH’s claims are merely designed to incite fear, when the facts show PVC pipes are entirely safe for their intended use.


PVC pipe is more durable and affordable than ductile iron pipe – its closest competitor – by a long shot.

PVC pipe has twice the expected lifespan of ductile iron pipe. And it’s far less expensive for municipalities to use.


The life cycle sustainability benefits of PVC pipe are indisputable.

PVC pipe is lighter to transport, requires fewer resources to install, demands fewer machines to manage, and uses less energy because it needs fewer repairs over its lifetime.   It is unquestionably the better environmental choice.


The iron pipe industry has spent millions lobbying its agenda, far more than the PVC pipe industry.¹

Since 2012, the iron pipe industry has spent over $2.3 million to push their political agenda. And that doesn’t include lobbying expenses by the individual iron pipe companies. Didn’t see that anywhere in CEH’s report.


Get the facts about vinyl material and PVC pipe at


Questions Surround Healthy Building Network’s Motives In Latest Anti-PVC Report

Questions Surround Healthy Building Network’s Motives In Latest Anti-PVC Report

The Healthy Building Network (HBN) rekindled its financially-driven distortion campaign against the vinyl industry recently in a one-sided, non-peer reviewed report riddled with inaccuracies and misstatements about PVC (vinyl). And as we’ve done so many times before, to ensure the public isn’t duped by HBN’s deceptions, we’ll take this opportunity to set the record straight. 

The bottom line:

  • The Healthy Building Network hopes uninformed readers will blindly accept its incorrect claim that the vinyl industry is the primary driver of U.S. chlorine production. 

  • We’ve corrected HBN on this point before. But the group insists on driving this false narrative – because HBN’s business division relies on the perpetuation of disparaging statements about our industry. 

  • And it may run deeper than that. HBN’s repeated efforts to misstate PVC’s use of asbestos – while ignoring the global cement building material industry’s rampant consumption of it – raises other questions as to the potential motives driving HBN’s anti-PVC agenda.

  • No matter how many times HBN spreads misinformation about our industry, we’ll continue to use this forum to clarify the facts.  

Let’s breakdown HBN’s inaccuracies:

We’re not sure HBN has a grasp of basic chemistry: HBN continues to risk its reputation by inaccurately asserting PVC is a primary driver of chlorine production when the facts simply don’t support it. Here’s why:

  • Chlorine is derived from sodium chloride, an abundant substance in the earth’s crust widely known as ordinary table salt.

  • During the processing of sodium chloride, both chlorine and another compound -- caustic soda – are produced in practically equal amounts. One cannot be produced without the other in the chlor-alkali process, and both have a wide variety of uses.  

  • According to IHS Markit, vinyl uses a mere 16.5% of the total global output of this process[1], which means the vast majority of it – 83.5% -- is dedicated for non-vinyl purposes including important uses for pulp and paper processing, alumina and other metals treatment, petroleum refining, drinking water purification and waste treatment, pharmaceuticals, and other polymers just to name a few.

  • Using HBN’s own charts, the single largest use of chlorine in Europe is the isocyanates and oxygenates category, which eclipsed PVC use in 2015 for the first time.  HBN ignores its own data and continues to mislead the public about PVC;

  • HBN makes no acknowledgement of the dominant role caustic soda demand plays to drive chlor-alkali production volumes.

HBN apparently opposes clean drinking water: HBN opposes chlorine production – which if eliminated, all of its vital uses would disappear, most notably the critical role it plays in purifying water by the municipal sources we drink to survive. Chlorine is essential to ensuring a safe water supply, and water purification is one of the primary uses of the compound throughout the United States. Yet HBN strangely remains fixated on its use in PVC. Sorry, HBN: You can’t oppose chlor-alkali production without rejecting all of the benefits we derive from it. 

HBN apparently opposes certain life-saving drugs, too: Caustic soda, the co-product of chlor-alkali production, is required to make aspirin, widely used to prevent heart attacks. It’s also used in synthesis of anticoagulants to stop blood clots, and in creating cholesterol-lowering medicines.  Many other pharmaceuticals use chlorine derivatives in their production as well. HBN’s opposition to chlor-alkali production demands a similar opposition to these life-saving therapies.  Again, HBN cannot have it both ways.

Some HBN claims are just flat wrong. Take, for instance, HBN’s claim that a Texas PVC plant is dumping PVC pellets into the Gulf of Mexico.  There’s just one problem: The plant they identify doesn’t make PVC pellets – and neither do any of the surrounding facilities in the area. 

Other HBN claims conflate data and draw false conclusions.  Here’s an example:  

The U.S. EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory lists annual releases of emissions to air, water, and land by all facilities above a certain threshold. But HBN irresponsibly adds, averages, and normalizes those releases over a five year period in a deceptive effort to conflate the numbers.   

  • Some U.S. chlor-vinyl facilities actually show decreases of reported emissions over a year-by-year comparison – but HBN hides this inconvenient fact that doesn’t help the group’s anti-PVC agenda.

  • HBN also lumps mercury cell and asbestos chlor-alkali capacity into one category, when mercury cell facilities are being replaced with newer technologies and are a small subset of global chlor-alkali capacity.

  • Similar to other emission conflations, HBN sums the emissions on a cumulative basis from the two remaining mercury cell plants to disguise the actual 82% reduction of emissions since 1987.  That doesn’t just provide a disservice to readers – such methods are flat wrong and deceptive.

HBN conflated and misrepresented Vinyl Institute (VI) data to draw inaccurate conclusions: HBN conflated and misconstrued the findings of a 2017 VI presentation about PVC pipes as part of its decades-long pursuit to mislead the public about the material.  HBN claimed VI’s data found approximately 95 PVC pipes tested between 1998 and 2015 contained residual vinyl chloride monomer (RVCM) levels that exceeded the national standard.  HBN, again, is flat wrong:

  • VI’s data reported 0.1% of 9,500 samples tested were over the NSF Standard 61’s RVCM limit. These numbers are clearly stated in the VI presentation. 
  • But HBN purposely miscalculated this number and claimed 95 samples were over the limit.
  • VI’s supporting data shows just 11 samples out of 9,528 were out of compliance and those were reportedly from manufacturers outside the U.S. seeking to sell products into the U.S. marketplace.
But here’s the kicker: HBN concealed the fact that the samples of pipes or fittings that were over the NSF limit were rejected and never used in any drinking water systems. HBN conveys the irresponsible impression that the few pipes found to be out of compliance are currently in circulation — and any such claim is categorically false.  The national standard that certifies pipes for the delivery of safe drinking water (NSF Standard 61) screens materials to prevent those that do not pass its RVCM tests from ever being used. HBN’s failure to clarify these facts further demonstrates the organization’s complete lack of understanding of the NSF Standard 61 screening process -- and only reaffirms HBN’s fanatical desire to perpetuate deceptions about PVC material.

HBN continues to mislead readers on PVC and mercury. HBN claims there are a “substantial number” of facilities that use mercury cell technology. In fact, there are only two – and they represent merely one percent of all U.S. chlor-alkali capacity. U.S. vinyl chloride producers do not rely on chlorine produced from these facilities, contrary to HBN’s repeated efforts to mislead the public on this point. 

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In its haste to deceive readers about the PVC industry, HBN fails to explain that the small amount of mercury released by these two U.S. plants was 988 pounds for 2016 and represents just 0.02% of the total 4,175,137 pounds released for all regulated industries nationwide, based on EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory for 2016.

HBN distorts the facts on PVC and asbestos, too: HBN wants readers to believe the PVC industry drives asbestos production – but the U.S. chlor-alkali industry consumed less than 0.03%[2] of global asbestos production.  Its fractional use is restricted to diaphragms that separate sodium from chlorine in the chlor-alkali electrolysis cell. And plants that still use this technology are heavily regulated and conform to strict U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.   Given these facts, it is ludicrous to assert, as HBN does, that a mine in Brazil is being reopened to supply U.S. chlor-alkali needs. It’s just not true.

If HBN is concerned about asbestos production, why does it conspicuously avoid mentioning cement building products – the single largest user of asbestos? These products, which include cement asbestos siding, roofing tiles and cement pipe, are the largest users of asbestos, primarily in third world developing countries. So why does HBN single out the PVC industry for using only 0.03% of it?  If asbestos is such a concern to HBN, why does HBN carefully sidestep any reference whatsoever to its single largest consumer

We already know HBN runs a business practice that drives its anti-PVC agenda. We’ve touched on this before: HBN operates an anti-PVC division and advises commercial clients on using non-PVC materials.  The business model is pretty simple: Flood the online space with disinformation about PVC, and then seek to profit from it by selling services to businesses and organizations on ways to avoid it. 

Missing, of course, from HBN’s report … is the record of significant health, safety, and environmental improvements made not just in the chlor-alkali industry, but also by downstream consumers. Over the past two decades, industry emissions of vinyl chloride have been reduced by 84% while production volumes have increased 99%. Much of these improvements have been driven by innovations in product and processing technologies by vinyl resin producers.

But we’re not expecting HBN to deliver the facts about PVC to readers anytime soon. HBN’s anti-PVC agenda has deep, entrenched roots. And all one has to do is read this quote attributed HBN’s Founder, former Greenpeace employee and activist Bill Walsh, way back in 2005 to understand the bias that has driven the group’s financially-driven claims against PVC: “Right now, stopping the use of polyvinyl chloride plastic, also known as PVC or vinyl, is our top priority.  We use a variety of strategies, from technical consultations to grassroots activism, to convince consumers, especially those with major commercial interests, to alter their purchasing habits.” – HBN Founder Bill Walsh, Grist, 2.22.05 

Need we say more?

[1] IHS Markit Chlorine and Caustic Soda Demand, World: 2016.

[2] According to HBN’s own statement, U.S. chlor-alkali producers consume on average 480 tons per year asbestos (see p. 40).  Global asbestos consumption in 2016 was estimated at 1,497,943 tons (see p. 5 in “The Fall of the Asbestos Empire” by Laurie Kazen-Allen Sept. 17, 2017 @ The calculation is then 480/1497943 = 0.00032 which is 0.03%.

Correcting DIPRA’s Fantasy World

DIPRA’s latest ad is riddled with inaccuracies and misleading statements about ductile iron and PVC pipe. We highlight the facts: