uPVC Polymer Board
Due to my sensitivities to terpenes, as tested and diagnosed by my Allergist and Immunologist, Dr Colin Little, I think we will be using uPVC (or PVCu if you’re in Europe) board for the cabinets, not the doors, just the carcass. Think pharmaceutical bottles: hard white plastic. Well this board is like that but baked so it’s even sturdier. Pine is a huge problem for me due to the terpenes (the frame of our house is made from hardwood, which I will be blogging about next. Hardwood is not generally used in kitchens unless it’s a softer wood like oak, which is costly. (You can read more about oak as doors here [link coming soon].) (And you can read more about a Green and formaldehyde free chipboard/particleboard, Ecological Panel, here.)
What is uPVC?
Regular PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a common, strong but lightweight plastic used in products such as underground piping (Due to the PBA’s contained, we used it only for the outgoing sewage pipes.). It can be made more pliable with the addition of plasticisers, which may contain phthalates. If no plasticisers are added, it is known as uPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride); or in the US, it’s called ‘vinyl siding’ or rigid PVC. So the ‘u’ just means that it’s un-plasticised, more durable and a harder product without the plastic softeners such as phthalates!
Is it Safe for People with Health Issues?
From Diffen, where you can compare anything:
Safety and Risks
PVC-coated wires can form HCl fumes in a fire, which can be a health hazard. Plasticizers may leach out of PVC into the environment.
Phthalates are what allow PVC to be flexible. Some of the phthalates used in PVC have been restricted or banned over the years, and many others are being replaced with safer phthalates. Dibutyl, benzyl butyl, and DEHP are some of the more commonly banned or restricted phthalates.
To date, there are no mainstream concerns regarding the use of uPVC, which does not use phthalates or BPA.
Read more about the differences here
What if you’re Chemically Sensitive to Plastic?
It probably doesn’t need to be pointed out that if you have contact allergies, inhalant allergies or sensitivities to plastics, then you wouldn’t use this product. Personally, I have tested it extensively (meaning slept with it on my bedside table, and later, held it to my face, and placed it in the sun to see what happens when it heats up…). I don’t have breathing problems with plastic; ergo, plastic bags from the supermarket cause my eyes, nose and upper respiratory irritation due to the cleaning chemicals and fragrances embedded in them just from where they are stored: in shops that sell chemicals alongside foods?! (*Don’t worry; it’s perfectly safe to eat bread that tastes like cleaning chemicals*) I’ve also asked my doctors, both specialists in allergies and sensitivities, about using this uPVC in our window frames, and possibly our kitchen. uPVC is on my safe list. You need to check before adding it to yours or someone else’s who has sensitivities to chemical irritants. It’s also noteworthy that many people who suffer physical symptoms from exposure to plastic, often, due to petrochemicals, or it’s the plasticisers that make PVC soft for other uses, like dog or children’s toys, that are causing the issues. (Yeah, I see that, due to phthalates, they may not be safe for anyone! The book, Slow Death by Rubber Duck gives good examples and citations on this issue.) However, this is not a rule. We are all so different; and, I am not a scientist or a doctor, just in case you didn’t know!
It can be confusing, I know. If you just remember the ‘U’, which stands for unplasticised and means it’s a different material than PVC, which is the softer plastic, often containing PBAs and/or phthalates depending on where it is sourced from.
Some uPVC products are stabilised with other chemicals; but I’ll get to this with my post on uPVC windows from Zenit Windows asap. Just because we are chemically sensitive, in my opinion, it doesn’t mean that we need to live without chemicals. They are useful; we need them! They can help us solve many of the issues we have to deal with. Again, there are no rules; we are all different. I think people who are mould sensitive may do better with this type of material due to the fact it cannot absorb water.
Use in Outdoor Kitchens
uPVC board is used to make outdoor kitchens because it is resistant to mould and moisture buildup. Your Custom Cabinets in Geelong kindly gave us a large sample piece to take home for testing purposes. Now this was before we decided on the Zenit uPVC window frames, so I was dubious because of the uPVC and tips from some solid sources on the internet in regards to choosing products for people with chemical sensitivities, however, the anti-mould factor won my attention because this board is mostly used for outdoor kitchens as explained by Rod during our outdoor meeting.
More from ‘Your Custom Cabinets’ Outdoor Kitchens
“Take advantage of your outdoor living area with one of Your Custom Cabinets outdoor kitchens. Transform your backyard, patio or entertainment area with custom cabinets or an outdoor kitchen or barbecue. Talk to Your Custom Cabinets joinery for ideas on benchtops, cabinets and shelving and we can custom build the perfect outdoor entertaining area for your home.”
The board is mould proof, inert, and baked so that it’s hard. I have heard, from other sources, that if painted in 2pak (which is baked on just like powder-coated paint) and left to bake in the sun—as outdoor kitchens are left to do—and, if not under the cover of a veranda or similar structure, the paint will fade, especially the darker shades. However, indoors, we won’t have this problem.
How does it Feel to Touch?
If I were to describe how it feels: it’s dense, heavy and solid with know porous areas; it’s also smooth and impervious to water.
My first question about this product: VOCs, give me data on that, please
First, we will clear up the brand name issue: The board was marketed as Neemaboard, however, it’s now Cowdroy. It could also be sold under other names, if you know of more brands or places who sell products like this, please drop a comment down below. It will be most helpful for those of us who must think outside the square bubble for health issues.
MSDS for Cowdroy Board
My readers know I get excited when businesses are transparent and just hand over MSDS and other information such as:
COWDROY POLYMER BOARDS
SAFETY DATA …………………………………………………………………………..15th Jan 2015
The Wetline and Signline board supplied by H.M. Cowdroy , are a foamed PVC extruded board. Wetline and Signline do not contain any hazardous chemicals and as such are not scheduled under the G.H.S ( Global Harmonized System of Classification and labelling of Chemicals )
As a guidance to composition and safety when working with these board, we issue the following synopsis on safety data information, supplied to us by the manufacturer.
Foamed PVC board, available in the Australian market under the brand names WETLINE and SIGNLINE.
Poly Vinyl Chloride ( P.V.C) with a Calcium Zinc based stabiliser .
NO Lead or Organo- Tin additives are used in the manufacture of this product.
Wetline and Signline , are non –harmful in the solid state .
Working with these products
Normal safety equipment, Goggles, Gloves , and Dust masks should be worn when cutting or machining this product .
For high speed cutting or machining, extraction and ventilation is recommended to remove fumes and dust.
If dust particles are inhaled, move to an area free of dust, preferably in the open air
Seek medical advice if discomfort persists.
Rinse mouth to remove particles, and drink water as required.
Contact with eyes
Contact lenses ( If worn) should be removed , flush eyes with clean fresh water , holding eye lids apart , until all dust and discomfort is removed .
Seek medical advice if discomfort or irritation persists.
Contact with Skin
If irritation to skin occurs, remove contaminated clothing , wash skin with soap and water ,and dry ,
Seek medical advice if discomfort or irritation persists.
Disposal of product
Do not incinerate, check with Local Authority guidelines relating to disposal of waste.
Fire Fighting Measures
In the event of fire, instruct personnel to evacuate the area, and inform Fire Fighters that the board comprises of P.V.C compounds and Calcium Zinc based stabilisers .
If fire extinguishers are used, Water, Foam, or Dry Powder are suitable.
How to Know if This is the Right Product for Your Allergy-Free Kitchen
Personally, when I asked my treating Allergist and Immunologist, who said, “It should be fine.”, I trusted that because I’ve been treated by this doctor for over a decade.
I also tested the large piece, given to us by Rod Bird at Your Custom Kitchens, who I found on Houzz, via just breathing near it. Later I put in out in the sun, then held it up to my face. I don’t recommend others do this; it’s just something I felt safe doing.
Some people practice Kinesiology; or go and see one themselves to find out if a product or chemical is suitable. I, however, will always trust my own bodily physical symptoms over what any therapist or doctor says. But just know, especially if you are skeptical of Kinesiology, this is the only way some people can test products because they are that exquisitely sensitive to so many substances, that they have no choice; so you need to just stand back and respect that method if someone tells you about it! (Also note, you can learn to do this yourself, I hear on the GE-free, organic grapevine!
If in doubt, trust your own instincts. If in doubt of your medical practitioner, get a second opinion or even a third!
More about ‘Your Custom Cabinets’:
“Your Custom Cabinets is owned and operated by Rod Bird with over 30 years experience in the industry. We design, create and install Kitchen, Bathroom, Laundry and Living spaces cabinets shaped to suit your lifestyle.
Your Custom Cabinets can provide everything from design conception through to hassle-free installation of cabinets crafted to meet your individual requirements. We can also fully co-ordinate all trades people needed for your project.
Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast, Ballarat, Colac and Melbourne.
Mobile: 0418 526 990
Monday – Friday
7.30am – 4.00pm
Building Biologist Recommendations for Outgassing Our New Kitchen
Whether we choose Ecological Board or Cordory, uPVC board, for the cabinet frame, or I find another product) we have planned an outgassing process (used over in the states; now adapted for summer Australian climate. (My caring vegan man, Dan, has developed this procedure over the last decade. The plan: bake the house when it’s new, sure, but renowned Building Biologist, Raphael Siket, Director of Ecolibria here in Torquay on the surf coast of Victoria, Australia, Victoria, has suggested we order the kitchen as soon as possible; then, laying the pieces out on specially placed shelves to get the outgassing treatment right before installation.
Ah, but what about when the kitchen heats up?
This was a question put to me on one of the local forums here in Australia where we discuss all things relating to living with allergies, food intolerances, mould and medical conditions relating to chemical sensitivities. Hopefully, when our kitchen heats up this won’t be an issue because we’ve already sped up the process using this exact procedure. If it is, I have to stay upstairs with stairwell door closed until it’s ready; however, this is the plan:
Order the kitchen panels weeks, months even, before installing them;
Place them inside the house where there is good air-flow;
Set up some shelving against the wall in the kitchen area (of course the space is empty so there’s lots of room)
Have fans running, pointed in the direction of the temporary shelving;
Place the pieces of kitchen boards separately on the temporary shelving;
Give them a wipe over with a solution of bicarbonate of soda, vinegar or you preferred cleaning product (I usually use Seventh Generation Free and Clear: All Purpose Cleaner but in this case, I’d start with the bicarbonate of soda as it absorbs chemicals, odours etc.);
Make sure there is plenty of airflow between the boards, which are holding the panels to help them outgass their ‘newness’;
At a temperature of 30-40 Degrees Celsius, heat the house up periodically, for 12-24 hours each time to bake out any wood terpenes, chemical-irritants (depending on what product you choose to use) or any residual odours left over from handling or manufacturing; keep the fans running as this will help the process along nicely;
After each baking session, turn the heat off completely, leave the fans running and open all the windows of the house (ceiling fans will help greatly at this point).
Book about plastics, chemicals and their ability to build up within humans and animals: Slow Death by Rubber Duck
More on testing via Kinesiology: Australian Kinesiology Association
My Chemical Free House: A Non-toxic Kitchen
The Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free Kitchen Series
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Oak. Glass or uPVC or Composite Panels?
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—By The Allergista: What are Your Countertops Hiding?
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Ecological Panels, and Building Biology Service, EcoLibria
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—uPVC Board
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Benchtops
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen ~ A Recap on the Low Irritant Kitchen