The Chemistry of manufacturing plastics


The fundamental chemistry


 

Popular Polymers:

 

Polyethylene (a polyolefin)

 

(drainpipes, water pipes, sheeting, cable insulation)
Polyethylene

 

Polypropylene (a polyolefin)

(sheeting, boards, pipes, carpets, electrical fittings, cable insulation)
Polypropylene

 

Polystyrene

(sheeting, thermal insulation (foamed), electrical insulation, light fittings)
Polystyrene

 

Polyurethane

(thermal insulation (foamed), adhesives, clear finishes, paint, sealants)
Polyurethane

 

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

(sheeting, boards, sections, window frames, pipes, flooring, wallpapers)
pvc

 

Some more common plastics and their associated emissions

Polymer Emission(s) Common use
Polyester Styrene, Dichloromethane Fabrics
Epoxy Phenol, Epichlorohydrin Epoxide resins: filler, adhesives, paint, clear finishes, etc.
Polymethylmethacrylate Acetonitrile, Acrylonitrile Rooflights, boards, flooring, baths, paint
Ureaformaldehyde Formaldehyde Thermal insulation, electical fittings, laminates, wood adhesives
Melamineformaldehyde Phenol, Formaldehyde Laminates, electrical fittings, adhesives
Polysulphide Toluene, Chloroparaffin Sealants
Silicone Xylene Sealants, electrical insulation
Styrene rubber Styrene, Xylene, Butadiene, Hexane, Toluene Flooring, sealing strips
Isoprene rubber Xylene, Nitrosamines Natural rubber substitute
Ethylene propylene rubber Benzene, Hexane, Nitrosamines Sealing strips
Chlorprene rubber Chloroprene, Nitrosamines Sealing strips

 

Further information

• The Environmental Toll of Plastics, and article in Environmental Health News by Jessica A. Knoblauch, 2009, www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/dangers-of-plastic

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