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5 myths about the environmental friendliness of building materials

According to the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), in the ranking of the most important factors that determine the quality of life, Russians traditionally put health in the first place.

Moreover, over the past three years, priorities have remained unchanged. TOP-4 components of the quality of life for Russians: health, safety, stable earnings, and the environment, which directly affects health.

What is ecology? According to Wikipedia, ecology is the science of the interactions of living organisms and their communities with each other and with the environment.

However, when discussing the ecology of building materials in general or heat insulation materials in particular, completely different concepts are often mixed on the Internet that does not always speak of environmental friendliness: moisture resistance, combustibility, competent installation, and so on. While environmental friendliness is the ability to positively, neutrally or negatively affect the environment and humans.

Of all the myths and illusions about the environmental friendliness of building materials, 5 main can be distinguished.

Myth 1.

The material must be natural.

Like grass or straw. Like a tree. Or how is air? We believe that everything natural is good, and synthetic is bad. But, by and large, any natural is a combination of chemical elements. In clay, we find oxides of silicon and aluminum, the main organic components of wood – high molecular weight compounds, polymers.

Not every ecologist, no matter how desperate he may be, will be able to find the right amount of straw bales of suitable quality for building a house.

Far from every site nearby, a sawmill groans, on which piles of eco-friendly sawdust are piled up, which somehow need to be transported and turned into building material.

On the other hand, our life has long gone beyond the bounds of undoubtedly eco-friendly dugouts, bast shoes, and horse-drawn carts.

Every day we come in contact with new modern materials, including plastic polyurethane, which, although not created from grass or wood, there is a technology for its production from the air, but more on that below, it is incredibly convenient.

We sit on sofas made of flexible polyurethane foam, put on sneakers and jackets, turn the steering wheel, play with a soccer ball, wear implants and even pay with bills issued for the World Cup – made of polymers.

Polyurethane and its improved version, PIR, is excellent for building and warming all kinds of rooms from the balcony to the bath, having the lowest coefficient of thermal conductivity of all the currently known heaters: 0.022 W / m2 * K.

What is PIR made of? From polyol and isocyanate. At high temperatures, excess isocyanate reacts with itself, forming more durable and stable complexes.

What are polyols made of? Initially from petroleum products, and recently more and more from organic materials: vegetable oils. Sunflower, soy, rapeseed or castor.

The technology for producing polyols from oils appeared in the 1950s, and today another technology for producing polyesters has been developed and is being applied: from carbon dioxide, CO2. In industrial quantities, CO2 is obtained from flue gases, or as a by-product of chemical processes, for example, in the decomposition of natural carbonates. Or alcohol.

Thus, PIR for verification also turns out to be natural. And convenient to use: it weighs a little, is installed simply, serves a long time.

And, importantly, the Ministry of Health allowed to use it in residential buildings in order No. 07 / 6-561 of 12/26/86. PIR also has the expert opinion of Rospotrebnadzor on compliance with sanitary-epidemiological and hygienic requirements, which are mandatory for all polymer-containing construction products.

“The environmental indicator is currently one of the most important characteristics of real estate. This is especially true of high-price housing or representative offices,

– says the executive director of the Association of manufacturers of panels from PPU (NAPPA) Alexey Gorokhov.

  • And who doesn’t want to be sure that we live and work in an environmentally friendly house? All materials used in construction must have an expert opinion on sanitary and hygienic safety. We guarantee that our products are absolutely safe even in extreme conditions – our materials are tested from minus 140 to plus 140 degrees. And even at very high temperatures, all indicators are tens and hundreds of times less than the established MPC. Today, PIR due to its properties is one of the most popular materials for building baths and saunas: it does not emit harmful substances even when heated, it is absolutely not afraid of moisture, it requires a minimum thickness, and the coating of aluminum foil provides absolutely record energy efficiency. ”

Myth 2

No harmful substances are released from the so-called environmental materials.

Unfortunately, there are almost no such materials. Chlorine is released from the window frames. Of the paints, varnishes, and adhesives that necessarily accompany any even the most natural material – volatile substances ethylbenzene, acetone, toluene and so on. Protective compounds, impregnations for wooden beams abound with organic poisons because they were created precisely in order to kill the wrong bacteria and microorganisms.

The main reason why we use all these materials is that the concentration of harmful substances in the air is so scanty that it does not affect human health.

In Europe, there have been many tests for the release of polyurethane foam, and in none of them were found carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances. On the contrary, the level of emission of volatile organic compounds from the so-called natural insulating materials was more than 100 times higher than the level of emission from polyurethane foam.

At the same time, rooms with environmentally referred to as mineral or stone wool can have elevated levels of formaldehyde. Wikipedia describes a typical case with the Usolsky-2 micro district near the Perm city of Bereznyaki.

It is believed that mineral fibers can be dangerous if their length exceeds 5 microns, their diameter is less than 3 microns, and the ratio of length to diameter is 3: 1. Such fibers, entering the lungs, can cause cancer.

According to the German standard, TRGS 905, glass and stone fibers are assigned the KI index, indicating the degree of their cancer hazard. The need for such an index is due to the chemical composition of the material, the basis of which are oxides with varying degrees of solubility. Fibers with a KI index of less than 30 are considered hazardous, with a KI between 30 and 40, the possibility of cancer is not excluded, with values ​​equal to and greater than 40, carcinogenesis is excluded. Therefore, carefully look at the packaging of mineral wool.

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