Can fighting noise pollution actually pollute the environment? If you select a noise barrier system made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), it will.
Noise barrier systems – particularly those separating highways and neighborhoods – can contain sophisticated engineering that helps dampen the sounds of busy highways. However, it’s worth noting that installing a lower quality barrier system that uses PVC can cause harm to the environment.
How Can a PVC Sound Barrier Affect the Environment?
While we’re increasingly aware that all plastics are bad for our health, many experts consider PVC the worst offender.
From its creation, use, to eventual destruction, the popular plastic’s environmental impact is profoundly harmful.
Many sound barrier systems are built using PVC, dubbed “the poison plastic” by Greenpeace. In their report, the environmental organization cites the poisonous impact PVC has on its surroundings, from the chlorine used in its manufacturing, to the dioxin – a highly toxic chemical – it releases over time.
- Manufacturing PVC is Incredibly Dangerous
To make PVC, manufacturers must first produce vinyl chloride, a colorless, highly flammable gas. Manufacturing employees are routinely exposed to unsafe levels of vinyl chloride during the production of both the gas and the final PVC product.
Vinyl chloride has also been linked to compromised immune systems, infertility, cancer, and a host of other life-threatening conditions.
The National Cancer Institute has linked this toxin directly to liver, brain, and lung cancers as well as leukemia and lymphoma.
- Simply Using PVC Harms the Environment
Over time, with temperature and weather changes, PVC leaks dioxin into the air, ground, and water.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggests that there is no such thing as a safe level of dioxin exposure.
Additionally, in the event of an accidental fire, the chemical composition of PVC breaks down, releasing deadly levels of dioxin into the environment. People trapped in fires occurring in structures made with PVC often die from dioxin exposure long before the flames threaten them directly.
- PVCs Impact can Last for Generations
The EPA has categorized dioxins as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), since dioxin takes a very long time to break down to safe levels once it’s in the ecosystem.
According to the National Institute of Health, recent studies have shown that dioxins that leached into the ground remain there for at least 30 years. This means the impact of a PVC sound barrier system on the local environment will outlast the barrier itself – and most barriers stay standing for decades.
PVC is also known as one of the least recyclable plastics. Which is due to the fact that PVC contains so many additives that recycling the material is expensive and inefficient.
Environmentally Safe Means a Better Future
In the 21st century, it’s not enough to just get the job done.
As decision-makers building the future, we should look at the available data on PVC and choose to avoid it. Not only do the hazardous materials impact our present lives, but those of future generations as well. And, we need to do this while balancing project budgets, timelines, and supply chains.
When you choose to install Sound Fighter® Systems sound barriers for your project, you can rest assured all those boxes are checked. An immediate reduction in ambient noise pollution from a product that not only keeps sound from traveling but PVC toxins out of the local ecosystem as well.
- Solid performance: Sound Fighter Systems highway sound barriers effectively reduce noise by an average of 15-20 decibels – the difference between a normal conversation and a jackhammer.
- Optimal longevity: Sound Fighter Systems noise barriers installed over 40 years ago are still performing optimally today.
- Environmentally friendly: Sound Fighter Systems’ proprietary technology reduces the impact of noise pollution on the surrounding area, and our noise barriers do not contain PVC, making them eco-friendly.
We use fiberglass technology that is more impact-resistant than PVC. It can retain its shape after compression or impact, as it is strong and flexible. This makes it better for extreme environments, such as earthquake-prone areas. PVC is much more vulnerable in this regard.
Fiberglass does not release dangerous toxins into the environment. But when PVC burns, chlorine can be released which can negatively affect the respiratory and central nervous systems of anyone in close proximity. It also releases bromine into the environment, which is used as a pesticide, and can have detrimental effects on the environment.
Fiberglass is also an incredibly sustainable material to work with. It’s made from sand, similar to how glass is made, which means that the source material for fiberglass is abundant in many places throughout the earth. Fiberglass also has an extremely long product life cycle and durability. Meaning our products are manufactured in a very sustainable manner, that is way less harmful to the environment than those products that contain PVC.
Partner with Us for a Better Tomorrow
Here at Sound Fighter Systems, we’ve been building noise barriers and highway sound barriers longer than anyone else in the United States, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. While new technologies come and go, the physics of sound, sound absorption, and noise reduction will never change.
Now, you can benefit from our nearly 50 years of experience for your next project.
Contact us today to request more information on a noise barrier system for your project and defeat your sound problems without harming the environment.