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Highly toxic chemicals promoted as a "green" solution

posted Nov 17, 2009, 11:33 AM by Nancy Swan   [ updated Nov 28, 2009, 12:20 PM by Thomas Swan ]
My story, Toxic Justice, exposes that application of spray on foam roofing and sealant products not only endangers our environment but sickens unprotected people in the vicinity of the fumes and over-spray.  How can the advertisers of toxic and environmentally  harmful products get away with calling their products "green?"   Is a product labeled "green" because it saves fuel cost?   Labeling a product that kills and sickens people and endangers the environment "green" is ludicrous.

Ask the dozens of seriously and permanently injured children and teachers at my school,  whether it was worth risking their life and health to save on fuel costs.  Ask firefighters who respond to the highly toxic black smoke and fumes from burning foam coated roofs and interior structures whether these products qualify as "green"  - good for the environment.

When these isocyanate containing products are applied on roofs in the open air, highly toxic products are released into the air.  Because fumes and particles they are heavier than air, the fumes fall to the ground. Notice in the picture in this ad for spray on foam roofing and sealant, that the the workers are dressed in Hazmat looking suits and ventilators.  Does this product which claims to be "green" appear green to you?  Does this product look good for the environment? 

Ask your legislators if toxic products advertisers should be allowed to promote products that are toxic to humans and harmful to the environment as "green." See NIOSH on the dangers of the chemicals in these products and CDC Alert.

How does industry and our government agencies measure, qualify, and certify, "green" products and services?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design construction principles determines that "a building can be rated for its greenness. If it meets enough of the criteria on the checklist, it is awarded a LEED certified status. Obviously, green buildings are good for the environment, but additional benefits of going green include lower operating costs of buildings (e.g., better insulated building mean less energy use), increased overall value of buildings, increased resale opportunities, possible tax incentives, and access to construction grant money."     Good for the environment?

So how can a product that contains a chemical so toxic it killed and injured half a million people in India and contaminated air, water, and soil, be certified as good for the environment?  How can a product that contains highly toxic, deadly and extremely flammable isocyanates (MDI and TDI) products and recognized by NIOSH to cause injury and death be good for the environment and labeled as "green"?

Unfortunately, spray on foam roofs and sealants are still heavily marketed to school districts as a "green" solution, even after more than two decades of reported injuries to school children from these products.  The sales pitch to school boards lean heavily on economics and rarely (if ever) include that dangers of these type of roofs. In 1985, The Long Beach [Mississippi] School District's school board decided to allow a contractor to apply a spray on foam roof during the school day, knowing the weather was hot and humid and classroom windows would be open.  After more than two dozen children and teachers reported injuries, the contractor continued the application of the foam roof and sealant.  Shortly after application, the foam roof and sealant were found faulty and removed and a traditional roof was installed.  A costly decision for taxpayers and for the injured.