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Environmentalists Tout Study Critical of Vinyl

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Local environmental groups are stepping up their campaign against the manufacturing of building products by CertainTeed Corporation. The Citizens' Environmental Coalition says a Tufts University study underscores the need to phase out production of vinyl.

A report titled "The Economics of Phasing Out Vinyl" concludes that polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is not "always cheaper" and the use of vinyl products "often poses health and safety hazards." The Citizens' Environmental Coalition says vinyl is one of the most hazardous materials. Armed with this latest study, coalition spokesman Michael Schade says they are calling on CertainTeed, a manufacturer of building materials, to use safer, alternative products. It currently operates a Cheektowaga plant, but plans to move its vinyl fence, deck and railing manufacturing to Buffalo's waterfront.

"CertainTeed already produces some of the alternatives. So, we don't see why they can't transition to using other materials at their Cheektowaga or proposed Buffalo facility," Schade said. "We don't want to put them out of business, but we would like to see them as a leader in the global effort to phase out toxic materials."

The coalition is not embracing CertainTeed's plans to set up a vinyl fabrication facility at Lakeside Commerce Park. Schade says it could pose a serious health risk to the public and pollute Lake Erie. But CertainTeed communications manager Bill Seiberlich says that won't be the case. He says the Cheektowaga facility does not emit harmful materials into the air and water.

"And when it is opened later this year, our new facility in Buffalo will likewise adhere to the company's rigid standards for safe and environmental sound operations," Seiberlich said.

Seiberlich says his company disputes the Tufts University study, noting that CertainTeeds vinyl products are safe to use, environmentally friendly and cost effective.