Health Risks of PVC Roofing Membrane

By Dymon Brady

Many building owners and manufacturers have asked me why I don’t offer PVC membrane to my flat roof customers. PVC is a popular roofing material that has been installed on flat roofs across the country since the 1950’s. However, after a considerable amount of research, I have concluded that PVC membrane may, in fact, be hazardous to the health of installers, communities, and ultimately to everyone.

neurological damage

immune system damage

respiratory problems

liver and kidney failure

birth defects

asthma

These are problems that the public and roofing contractors have a right to know about.

About 12 years ago, PVC was the primary material we used in our flat roofing division here at Brady Roofing. After we began installing PVC, I started to experience health problems. I have been healthy my entire life, so when these issues came on so suddenly, it made me wonder about the safety of PVC membrane. This led me to do some serious research on the material. I found that manufacturers actually know that PVC membrane is very toxic, but they were hiding these facts from me during our conversations.

Health Risks of PVC Roofing Membrane

My personal health problems included severe respiratory issues and neurological damage. The neurological issues are actually getting worse, despite the fact that I no longer install PVC. I don’t want to go into my own health problems too deeply, but just to illustrate, my left lower body is experiencing a slow atrophy of the muscles due to neurological damage. My left calf is currently 1.25 inches smaller in circumference than my right. While I have no proof, I strongly believe it is caused from breathing the toxins found in PVC membrane. I have no genetic predisposition for such neurological issues.

Is this research relevant?

I approached our PVC manufacturer about the issue. They simply told me that there was no research to support my claims. In fact, there is a great deal of research done on the toxicity of PVC. The manufacturers can claim they are not relevant because these studies are done on the production of PVC rather than the installation risks. However, when you install PVC, you use hot air up to 1300 degrees F to melt the membrane and seal it. As the membrane melts, it can feel like you are breathing ammonia. The air can burn your sinuses, showing the presence of harmful chemicals being released, just as they are during production. Manufacturers will not provide this information to contractors and consumers.

Their argument is that the roofs are installed in open air, so there is enough ventilation to keep the installers safe. However, when you are welding, your face is 18 inches from the fumes. In a large majority of flat roofs there are also parapet walls, keeping the wind from blowing and clearing the fumes out. A significant percentage of the time, the fumes will enter your sinuses instead.

We have chosen a new, innovative roofing alternative called TPO. TPO looks identical to PVC, but it comes without risks to the installer or customer. I believe that it is actually a better membrane because it does not get brittle like a dried up PVC pipe, as is characteristic of PVC sheets. TPO is flexible and highly energy efficient, along with being non-toxic. TPO is a younger product, it has only been around since 1991. However, it is showing indications that it will last longer than pvc membrane.

In the end, it is not worth the risk involved in choosing to install PVC roofing membranes. Not only does it pose serious health risks to the installer, but it isn’t the most dependable roofing choice in comparison with other options such as TPO membranes. At Brady Roofing, we are determined to deliver the highest quality products possible, along with the lowest risk to our customers and employees. Contact us today for a free estimate or for more information.


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