Are Vinyl Wall Decals Toxic?
When choosing a wallcovering for your home, there are many factors to consider: color, style, texture, theme. Recently, customers have learned more about the makeup of their products, and have become more worried about safety—understandably so. The scientific community has examined various vinyl fixtures and their tests have returned some worrisome results. Certain vinyl wallcoverings and floorings have tested positive for high levels of toxic VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and phthalates. Some products also contain brominated flame retardants, which are also toxic when exposed to long-term. While this may worry you, our vinyl wall murals are NON-TOXIC (VOC, Phthalate, and Bromine-free), safe for children and adults as long-term fixtures in the home! Below, we will outline the process by which vinyl wall decals and wallpaper are made and give a little more background on some of the toxic materials.
VINYL WALLPAPER PRODUCTION
A term you will often see as you research vinyl safety is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). PVC, simply put, is the "vinyl" the public knows. PVC alone, without additives, is harmless, so merely seeing that a product has PVC shouldn't alone dissuade you from purchasing! That said, you will need to be wary of what additives were put in at the end of the PVC process. Essentially, PVC is synthesized from two base materials: saltwater and petroleum. Here's how vinyl wallpaper is made:
- First, PVC is created:
- The petroleum undergoes a process called thermal cracking (pyrolysis), from which ethylene is derived. The water and salt go through electrolysis, from which we get chlorine.
- The ethylene and chlorine are reacted together to get ethylene dichloride
- The ethylene dichloride undergoes thermal cracking as well, creating vinyl chloride monomers
- Vinyl chloride monomers undergo a complicated process called polymerization, which causes the monomers to bind together. From this, we get polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
- At this point, various plasticizers and stabilizers are added to the PVC to create the proper end product for the manufacturer. These additives are the cause of PVC toxicity.
- In regard to wallcoverings, the finalized vinyl is then attached to either a paper or fabric (woven or non-woven) backing. Our vinyl murals are backed with a thick, non-woven polyester.
NO VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
You will come across the term “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)” in your safety search. At the broadest level, VOCs are organic chemicals that are emitted as gasses at room temperature—which can include things like plant and animal scents. However, what is meant by VOC, in this case, are compounds toxic at room temperature: e.g., formaldehyde, benzene, and perchloroethylene. Long-term exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause headaches, allergies, loss of focus, and even cancer.
Limitless Walls vinyl wallcoverings are low-VOC materials, as defined by the California CDPH Standard for Schools and Offices as tested to CA 01350. This standard is a highly rigorous product examination, determining whether a product is safe for adults AND children to be around long-term. On a national level, several states have adopted this standard for product safety in regards to schools and offices in their state.
One of the most toxic additives to vinyl are phthalates: phthalic acid esters used as plasticizers for PVC. They are added to increase the flexibility and durability of the vinyl product. Phthalates are considered endocrine disrupters and are could potentially affect fertility in males and females—research has shown correlations between phthalates and breast cancer, metabolic disorders, and immune function, among other things. Don't worry; Limitless Walls vinyl wall decals, wallpaper, and wall stickers are all constructed WITHOUT phthalates or other plasticizers known to be harmful!
NO BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS
While being flame resistant is essential, brominated flame retardants have been identified as environmental health risks. For example, firefighters exposed to high numbers of brominated flame retardants during their runs showed higher rates of cancer compared to the general population. They are classified as endocrine disruptors. Limitless Walls vinyl wallpaper and wall murals are constructed WITHOUT brominated flame retardants! While we do not use brominated materials, our fire safety rating is fantastic—Type II commercial class A, the best there is.
IS OUR VINYL WALLPAPER TOXIC? NO!
If you're wondering whether vinyl wallpaper is toxic, or if any of your other vinyl wallcoverings are toxic, the short answer is: it depends on the source of your product. Various companies have different manufacturers. Vinyl creation has advanced to the point where safer options on the market are more easily available at a lower price. We here at Limitless Walls pride ourselves on providing vinyl wall murals that are low-VOC, free from phthalate plasticizers, will not leak formaldehyde, lead, or other heavy metals, and are not made with brominated flame retardants (while maintaining our class A fire rating).
If you have any specific questions about our product, do not hesitate to contact us!