No matter how good the story is about what is or isn’t in a product, if it is too expensive or doesn’t work then it is not sustainable.
We view sustainable design as a process of continuous improvement. What we do today should be viewed as just a step in the right direction. There are very few, if any “perfect” solutions. It is important for consumers of materials, such as Interior Designers and Hospital Buyers, to keep asking for better solutions. It is these consumers that are ultimately creating the competition necessary for progress. If you keep buying what you are buying, manufacturers are going to keep selling what they are selling.
LDI was founded with the goal of developing products that are more sustainable, less toxic, and safer. Our philosophy is that there is no reason to use products that are damaging to the environment and pose a health threat. The company has a unique understanding of materials, their performance characteristics, and environmental and health safety impact. LDI has the technology to provide safer alternatives that offer superior performance and competitive cost.
Children are especially susceptible to the ill-effects of environmental toxins. Their bodies are developing and it is eye opening to realize that their health could be forever impacted by some of the chemicals used in every day products that we, as parents, may unknowingly buy for them. LDI has become a successful leader in the transformation of commercial markets by putting more emphasis on health safety and sustainability and getting people talking about safer alternatives.
For instance vinyl, or PVC is widely used throughout the contract furniture and healthcare industries because of its durability. But PVC and the plasticizers that can leach from vinyl have also been linked to environmental and health safety concerns. Many industries, especially healthcare, are asking for safer alternatives, but one of the challenges in moving to these safer alternatives is the risk of sacrificing performance.
LDI has solved this problem. We have developed single-use tissue bank and surgical supplies that avoid the environmental and health safety concerns of PVC without sacrificing performance.
Here at LDI, some of the ways we make our products Eco-friendly or sustainable are by:
- Passing indoor air quality testing for low VOC emissions
- Incorporating recycled content into our products
- Using as many renewable resources as we can
- Not using PVC
- Not using plasticizers
- Not using flame retardants
- Creating products that are durable so that they don’t have to be replaced frequently
- Providing low cost of ownership
Studies have shown vinyl (PVC) can have toxic effects throughout its lifecycle. Vinyl is listed on the EPA’s warning list of materials that contribute toward poor indoor air quality among other health and safety concerns.
During manufacture, or disposal, hydrochloric acid and other toxic emissions can be created. Incineration of vinyl can lead to the formation of dioxin which is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor.
The plasticizers used to soften vinyl can leach from the material during its useful lifecycle and have been linked to developmental impairment, especially with young males. Those plasticizers and other chemicals such as halogenated flame retardants can volatize into the air (VOC emissions) becoming a bronchial irritant and potential asthma trigger.
We use safer materials that meet indoor air quality testing and don’t contain plasticizers, halogenated flame retardants, or heavy metals.
Why Flame Retardant-Free?
To meet certain flammability standards, flame retardant chemicals are added to a wide range of products, including computers, couches, hospital beds, waiting room chairs, and hospital privacy curtains. Unfortunately, many of these flame retardant chemicals do not remain in the product and slowly off-gas into the air, dust, and water, eventually entering the food chain and building up in our bodies. Many flame retardants are linked to a range of negative health effects. Levels of toxic flame retardants in people have already reached levels of concern. Depending on the flame retardant, effects include reproductive, neurocognitive, and immune system impacts, among others. Three common flame retardants appear on California’s Proposition 65 list as human carcinogens.
Brominated flame retardants are used as additives to products to reduce the risk and inhibit the spread of fire. Testing has shown that brominated flame retardants are toxic and have the potential to disrupt fetal development. It has also been demonstrated that these brominated chemicals bioaccumulate in the human body. Levels of toxic flame retardants in people have already reached levels of concern.
Recent research on one class of brominated flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, “shows that PBDE exposure can interrupt brain development in mice, permanently impairing learning and movement. So far, scientists have not identified “safe” levels of exposure that do not produce damage. Additionally, both PCBs and PBDEs are found in humans, and their effects on brain development may be additive.”
When selecting upholstery fabric you should seek to avoid the use of added flame retardants whenever possible. EnviroLeather™ passes standard industry testing for flammability without the use of flame retardants.
See article below for more detail.
Growing Threats: Toxic Flame Retardants and Children’s Health (pdf)
MADSEN, LEE, AND OLLE / ENVIRONMENT CALIFORNIA RESEARCH AND POLICY CENTER, MAR 2003
Travis Madsen, Susan Lee, and Teri Olle
[Dangerous Chemicals – Editorial / SF Chronicle June 11, 2003]
The excerpt below is from an article published by Health Care Without Harm.
Aggregate Exposures to Phthalates in Humans
Phthalates are a family of chemicals that are produced worldwide in the millions of tons annually. They are a principal component of many products that consumers come into contact with at work, at home, and in hospitals. They include products made of flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, cosmetics and other personal-care goods, pesticides, building materials, lubricants, adhesives, and film, among other items.
Phthalates are released into the environment by manufacturers and escape from consumer products in which they are used. Worldwide ecosystem contamination and direct contact with phthalate-containing products result in virtually ubiquitous human exposures. Health effects that may be caused by exposure to phthalates differ among the various individual compounds and depend on the timing and the size of the dose. Young, developing organisms are more vulnerable to exposure to phthalates than adults are. In particular, the developing male reproductive tract appears to be the most sensitive endpoint, although effects on the lungs, kidneys, liver, and blood clotting are also of concern.
In animal tests considered relevant to humans, several of the phthalates, including di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-butyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and perhaps di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), interfere with male reproductive-tract development and are toxic to cells in the testes that are responsible for assuring normal sperm and hormone production. Human exposure to DEHP from PVC medical devices used in patient care has been known for some time. Expert panels of the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and Health Canada, as well as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, have recently reviewed the toxicology of DEHP and considered exposures to patients that may result from the use of DEHP-containing equipment. Each review concluded that some patients are likely to be exposed to potentially unsafe amounts of DEHP while receiving medical care. Testing by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently showed that phthalate exposures are virtually ubiquitous within the general population.
Women of reproductive age experience some of the highest exposure levels to phthalates that can interfere with normal male reproductive tract development. In this report, we summarize what is known about human exposures to phthalates and consider the potential health impacts of exposure to real-world mixtures of these chemicals. Using a relative-potency approach, based on what is known about mechanisms of action and available experimental data, it becomes clear that, for a large number of women of reproductive age, their aggregate exposure to phthalates is sufficient to significantly increase the risk of abnormal development in male fetuses and baby boys. Women of reproductive age who require medical care may be exposed to additional phthalates, largely DEHP, in the medical setting, that, depending on the procedure, can add significantly to their existing levels. According to sample data from the CDC, an estimated 5% of women of reproductive age from the general population are contaminated with 75% or more of the level of just one of the phthalates, DBP, that may begin to impair normal reproductive tract development in their baby boys. Many of these women are also regularly exposed to significant amounts of BBP and DEHP, so that their aggregate exposures pose even greater risks. When any of these women requires medical care that exposes them to additional DEHP from PVC medical devices, even more is added.