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Question DetailsAsked on 11/27/2015

Are Vinyl windows allergic

I am looking to replace my home windows with Vinyl windows. I have a son with lot of allergies. Are Vinyl windows allergy friendly as it has PVC in it?

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Yeah, some are - real disturbing when they fly open in sequence at all hours as they sneeze during hay fever season - looks like some Disney cartoon ;>) (I will presume you meant allergenic, not allergic.) Now - to get serious -

A lot of people are sensitive to the outgassing from plastics and resins - lots of info on that on the web, including articles at CDC and Mayo Clinic and other relaible sources - both to vinyl and fiberglass. I know my nose sensitizes to vinyl windows and appliances at times when in close proximity, even where the windows or appliance have been in place for a decade or more. My skin sensitizes just handling PCV and CPVC pipe too - and I am not highly sensitive to chemicals.

Fiberglass also outgasses, but seems to lose pretty much all its smell in just a week or two - vinyl outgasses noticeably for a decade or more, so I know if I was seriously sensitive to it I would avoid it. (Course, I would avoid it anyway just because I consider it an inferior product material).

I would talk to his allergist/doctor about the best options, but in my mind factory-stained and urethaned (NOT varnish - outgasses for ages) wood would be less of a risk - bare metal most probably the best for your situation because the only irritant would be the sealant used at corners and around the glazing unit during assembly - but also generally the least energy efficient, if that is important in your area. However, from what little I have heard, windows/doors are not a major irritant except maybe when fresh from the factory - interior paints, carpets, large upholstered/padded furnishings, and plastic flooring are the ones I have heard of significant reactions to - which makes sense because they have a much greater exposed area to outgas to the house environment.

ANY new windows you get will also probably outgas from the sealants/caulks used in fabrication to at least some extent, and of course the windows are installed using foam and caulks too - you might do a bit of research on the least allergenic of them. Certainly, fiberglass insulation stuffed in or preformed bulb or rope-type flexible caulk strips would be better than foam-in-place filler for the rough opening gap around the window units for your purposes (though slightly less effective in insulation and stopping drafts), and they should be able to limit the caulks to the outside surfaces of the window opening during installation. Also, heavy sheet polyethylene would probably be better than ice and water shield for the rough opening waterproofing envelope if he is sensitive to petroleum products.

There are a couple of hypoallergenic caulks out there used primarily for your type use and in hospital environments - EcoBond Adhesives makes one, KBT100 or something similar to that as I recall - don't have a tube laying around to look at. AFM Safecoat is another brand with a hypoallergenic caulk. The low-volatile ones (on the label) would be less allergenic, and unless he is latex sensitive the pure latex ones probably less irritating than the siliconized latex or silicone ones - I know those affect my sinus and skin but regular latex ones do not. You could make it a requirement that the contractor use a particular type of caulk that you have bought a tube of and pre-tested with your son - assuming it is a long-life exterior rated one. Dap latex caulk is one brand I know that seems to have very low volatiles - at least I do not notice any smell or irritation when using it. M-D (MD Building Products, Macklanburg-Duncan still on some product labels) seems pretty innocuous to me too. GE, Momentive, Dow, Locktite, Permatex brands of caulks and sealants seem to have high volatiles that bother my nose - GE and Dow are the worst for me (though their caulks also seem to work the best).

And of course, with new windows/doors etc storing them in the garage or at contractor's place of business or vendor's warehouse for a couple of weeks before installation to allow primary outgassing, and then increasing household ventilation (especially in his bedroom) for a month or so after installation would probably help. If weather allows, could leave his window open a bit to promote flow-through ventilation and circulate out vapors before they can assumuylate to a concentration that affects him.

You could also, when talking to contractors and BEFORE signing a contract, if really conceerned, arrange for him to get in close contact with a new window of the brand you are looking at buying - at contractor's shop, distributor's warehouse, etc, to see if he has an obvious reaction.

Of course, the severity of his reactions (and how he reacted to skin allergy testing if plastics and solvents were tested, which is rare) would affect how concerned you should be - if normal range allergic reactions without life-threatening reaction or hives or such you would be less concerned than if his reactions are severe.

One other thought - for his bedroom and maybe another roomn he spends a lot of time in (highest exposure areas), is that you might, in the contract, REQUIRE than the original windows from those areas be removed intact and undamaged and stored in a place you designate where they will be ventilated and dry - so you have them available for immediate reinstall if a significant issue does arise.

Could also arrange for a two-part install in the contract - a single window for a room he does not spend a lot of time in but could be exposed to as a test for a week or two after installation, and only if there is no adverse reaction would the second part of the contract (the rest of them) be in effect.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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