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Chinese Manufacturers of XPS Boards ‘Under Fire’


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Banned fluorinated blowing agents and highly toxic flame retardants found in Chinese imports.


Joe Webster, president of consulting firm Stabilization Technologies, a long-time industry friend and well-known technical expert in plastics additives, alerted me to “Chinese Boards Fail Further Tests”, a recent news item that appeared in UK’s Builders Merchants Journal.


It appears that the investigation on imported XPS cored tilebacker boards began in March, when three global leading brands provided test information to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the chemicals incorporated in Chinese XPS boards. The brands are Germany’s Wedi (U.S. headquarters in Carol Stream, Ill.) and Jackoboard (sold in North America by Schluter Systems, Plattsburgh, N.Y.), and New Zealand’s Marmox (sold through distributors in U.S., Europe, and Australia).


That information showed that the imported boards contained fluorinated blowing agents (e.g., CFCs, HCFCs) banned in Europe and North America due to their harmful effects on the environment. Moreover, the tested boards also incorporated a highly toxic flame retardant at quantities also banned in Europe.


After extensive reporting of these test result, one Chinese manufacturer produced a copy of a test report that purportedly showed that their products were free from the banned chemicals.


But, Wedi, Jackoboard, and Marmox aimed to remove all doubts and submitted further samples of the imported boards to two leading independent European testing laboratories. The new results compounded the earlier findings that the imported XPS boards contained blowing agent gases which have been banned for fourteen years plus four times the permitted level of a toxic flame retardant.


Due to the sensitive and ongoing nature of this investigation, brand names of boards “under fire” have yet to be named.