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I started wondering if using DOW blue board was really safe for aquaponics. Well the anwser was "NO" after calling the 1-888 # on the product pdf, I said I'm looking to purchase a large quantity of blue board for Aquaponics, he said ok let me take down all your information. He took my name, address, business name, phone # and then said that DOW did not endorse my application for their product and could not give me the contact information for a distributor. I asked why, he said it was because chemicals from the foam board product would leach and be absorbed by the plants, I asked but he would not list the chemicals. I then stated US Gov. was certifying organic produce grown with their product and he stated, they knew and did not endorse the application. We spoke a little more before him thanking me for my time and hung up. He was quite mono-tone, seriously professional and polite before he hung up. So I found 2 suppliers of Expanded polystyrene board, they do endorse the application, and the one I purchased from in Chino,CA. even gave me a tour of the manufacturing facility.

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Of coarse DOW Chemical isn't going to "endorse" any application of their product other than the application it was designed and manufactured for. For them to do otherwise would be rather reckless.

Are you sure that the guy said "would" leach...rather than "may" leach? Using terminology like "will" and "would" (instead of "may" and "could") in an application that a product has not been designed to be used for is something that companies just do not do regularly, because well, legal issues aside, it wasn't designed for said usage so they really have no idea. They are usually pretty careful about using language like that.

It seems pretty hard to believe that a rep from DOW would be so amature-ish as to even make such a statement. And to then go on and not want to list what the offending chemical could be...??? This is particularly vexing, as DOW makes no secret as to either the 'ingredient list' or the process by which their product is manufactured.

Traditionally, the reason polystyrene boards from manufacturers like Owen Corning are to be avoided is because their boards contain hexabromocyclododecane, which can leach and is a known toxin.

As far as I know, DOW does not use hexabromocyclododecane in their product. This is what they use:

Styrene, polymers           CAS# 9003-53-6 >= 60.0 %
Styrene butadiene rubber CAS# 9003-55-8 < 40.0 %
1,1-Difluoroethane           CAS# 75-37-6 < 5.0 %
Talc                               CAS# 14807-96-6 <= 1.0 %

Owen Corning on the other hand uses:

Polystyrene             CAS#9003-53-6                                    80 - 90% by weight
Talc                         CAS#14807-96-6                                   0 -  2% by weight
1-Chloro-1, 1-difluoroethane (HCFC-142B) CAS#75-68-3          7 - 12% by weight
Hexabromocyclododecane CAS#3194-55-6                      0.5 - 1.5% by weight

So what all goes into the foam board from the manufacturers from Chino in the product that is "endorsed" for AP?

While you were taking the tour did they give you an MSDS list, or ingredient list (so that you could check it out for yourself), or any document that certifies that their product is officially safe for an AP application? Or are you just taking their word for it?

I take it that since the company policy is to officially "endorse" their product for use in AP, that they, or a third party lab, have tested the product in an AP environment and deemed it to be safe for such an application. 

..."I asked why, he said it was because chemicals from the foam board product would leach and be absorbed by the plants..."... oh man, that's a good one. Too funny. Won't leach and kill the bacteria, or the fish even...but the plants no less will absorb the offending undisclosed chemical...Sounds like they're absolutely making it up as they go along...

What a good way to get his dumb ass fired.

 

thank you Vlad for the factual information... I do hear conflicting information on this subject.

Vlad-  your a skeptic at heart I don't take it personally, but in the time you took to write that incredibly long doubt letter, you could have called DOW like a professional.

Rob- you can ask others for their second hand ignorant opinions, but the truth hurt me too. Call DOW and see for yourself.

Insulfoam endorses the application and have spoken with my lawyers about the matter.



Rob Nash said:

thank you Vlad for the factual information... I do hear conflicting information on this subject.

Yes, I am a skeptic at heart (though I must admit, usually my skepticism is directed towards those corporations like DOW, so this is a first for me...), and no you should definitely not take any of this personally ...though you alluding to me as "ignorant" and "second hand", pretty much let's me know that for some weird reason, you in fact are taking it personally...which leads me to wonder about your relationship with the Chino factory and your motivations, You as a "hydroponic systems designer" who's clients you purport to do $100,000,000 in produce yearly...since we do not know each other personally, and you have no reason to 'take it personally'...it's probably "just business"... Aquapons might make a nice niche market for rafts...but I digress...

Forget the "endorsement" thing, no company will ever tell you to use their product in a way that it was not intended by them to be used...whether it's Rubbermaid stock tanks for grow beds, or Q-tips to pollinate your squash...You'll almost always as a matter of policy get that type of answer.

But your story is that when you contacted DOW Chemical corp, one of their rep's told you not to use their products in AP because they will leach an un-named chemical that your plants will absorb. That is what you are saying, right? Just to be absolutely clear on the matter...You can see why this would be just a tad difficult to believe, right?

Looks you got a different rep than I did...

Yes, Rob please do call DOW and see if this is now their official stance on their Blue Board and aquaponics. This would be 'big' if anyone could confirm it. I've not been able to.

Jeesh, Vlad. You find a way to piss everybody off. What a dick. :)

For what it's worth, El Ray, I agree with most everything Vlad has said on this forum, including this matter, and he backs up his doubt with data. I am using molded lettuce rafts from Beaver Plastics in Canada, expanded polystyrene I believe, and now I feel compelled to ask the manufacture for the ingredients. I do know that Santa Cruz AP was certified organic and used these boards, which is why I decided to use them. And they're cheaper than DBB, with holes already done.

there are systems that have been up and running for years that are using DOW blueboards. the possible chemical leeching is because when the blueboard burns, the result is a toxin... and as i've stated many times on this subject, if your raft that is floating on the water is leeching chemicals because it's on fire, the leeching chemicals are probably the least of your worries at that moment.

but i digress...

farms like Friendly Aquaponics have been using nothing but the DOW blueboards for rafts for a number of years now and have never experienced any leeching effects to the plants, fish, biofilm, or gammarus that inhabit their system...

vlad made a very astute and correct observation when he said that no company will endorse their product for any purpose  other than what it was intended for, to do so might result in legal issues should something go wrong...  a deck of cards makes a good stabilizer for a wobbly tables, but if you call up Bicycle and ask them to endorse the deck of cards for this purpose they probably wont, and that's because of the possibility for injury should someone stand on said table after the deck was endorsed for stabilization and someone fell... sounds like a stretch? try it out. try calling up colgate and ask if their bleaching tooth past is good for stains on clothes. it works, but ot of fear of ruining something they won't indorse the use. there are millions of products suitable for secondary uses that the companies legally cant endorse due to the over abundance of frivolous lawsuits. 

Thanks Jon...Not for the dick part :)  but certain shenanigans bring that out in me...

While we wait for El Ray to get his story straight...

Lets take a look at that product (Insulfoam) that he was advocating everyone replace their Dow blue board with. Dow blue board which does not appear to contain any of the problematic Bromine flame retardants commonly used by certain companies, while not by others, in the manufacture of extruded polystyrene foam boards...You know, bromine flame retardants...some of the ones THAT ARE UP FOR GLOBAL BANNING BY THE STOCKHOLM CONVENTION...WHO'S USE IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD IS ALREADY BANNED. (Still widely used in the U.S though, BUT..) WHO SINCE AUGUST 2010 EVEN THE UNITED STATES EPA PUT ON THEIR "CHEMICALS OF CONCERN" LIST...And are being classified as, Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT). Those pesky bromine flame retardants...

According to Insulfoam's MSDS sheet it is comprised of the following:

(The MSDS sheet which I'll link, is divided into two main categories, Non-Hazardous Components and Hazardous Components. On the Non-Hazardous Components side we have)...

Polystyrene CAS# 9003536  <92%

(Then on the Hazardous Components side)...

Pentane      CAS# 109660                         <2%

Polymeric film (no CAS registry # is given)   1-3%

Bromine Flame Retardant CAS# 3194-55-6 <1%

Incidentally CAS# 3194-55-6 is registered as Hexabromocyclododecane... the worst of the worste, the baddest of the bromine bunch. And is the very chemical being banned globally.

Could this be the same TOXIC bromine flame retardant being BANNED for use IN ANYTHING? And that folks in AP are trying to stay away from? Surely El Ray (or his lawyers) in all their combined wisdom must have checked this out already? Someone as "professional" and as thorough, whos clients do $100,000,000 a year in hydroponic produce would know about this? Maybe it was just some printing mistake at the "MSDS Print Shop"...

This self proclaimed "hydroponics system designer" (who so far seems to know surprisingly little about how hydroponic systems work btw) is actually advocating replacing a product which does not appear to use components of dubious toxicological status, for one that uses chemicals THAT ARE BEING BANNED GLOBALLY, AND ARE WIDELY AS WELL AS GENERALLY KNOWN AS TOXIC TO WATER LIVING ORGANISMS, AND MADE THE EPS's OWN "Chemicals of Concern" list.

Nice one El Ray. Way to go. Thanks a bunch. I would't trust you to design a pepperoni pizza.

I don't usually make negative personal comments on this forum, but the sheer recklessness (and until a third party whom I trust can confirm your "Dow rep" story, because I've not been able to goad such a response out of them, in my head I'm counting that story as an outright lie) of your en devour leads me to believe that... a) your a total and complete moron or, b) have a vested financial interest in moving the (toxic component containing) Insulfoam boards...or quite possibly both.

http://www.insulfoam.com/images/stories/docs/MSDS.pdf

(I apologize to everyone in advance for the tone of that last paragraph). 

thank you Vlad for being so helpful as to research and post your findings for the benifit of the forum.

El Ray, this is actually old news and has been discussed multiple times. i thought you might be on to something new, but it sounds like you may have just been posting "ignorant second hand opinons"  ...as for being a professional researcher, ...im just too busy growing and harvesting at my AP farm to make phone calls to these guy, but i do appreciate both of your efforts.

Vlad,

You are not a Dick only very thorough, which many of us DO APPRECIATE. Keep on questioning with boldness Vlad



Vlad Jovanovic said:

Thanks Jon...Not for the dick part  but certain shenanigans bring that out in me...

While we wait for El Ray to get his story straight...

Lets take a look at that product (Insulfoam) that he was advocating everyone replace their Dow blue board with. Dow blue board which does not appear to contain any of the problematic Bromine flame retardants commonly used by certain companies, while not by others, in the manufacture of extruded polystyrene foam boards...You know, bromine flame retardants...some of the ones THAT ARE UP FOR GLOBAL BANNING BY THE STOCKHOLM CONVENTION...WHO'S USE IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD IS ALREADY BANNED. (Still widely used in the U.S though, BUT..) WHO SINCE AUGUST 2010 EVEN THE UNITED STATES EPA PUT ON THEIR "CHEMICALS OF CONCERN" LIST...And are being classified as, Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT). Those pesky bromine flame retardants...

According to Insulfoam's MSDS sheet it is comprised of the following:

(The MSDS sheet which I'll link, is divided into two main categories, Non-Hazardous Components and Hazardous Components. On the Non-Hazardous Components side we have)...

Polystyrene CAS# 9003536  <92%

(Then on the Hazardous Components side)...

Pentane      CAS# 109660                         <2%

Polymeric film (no CAS registry # is given)   1-3%

Bromine Flame Retardant CAS# 3194-55-6 <1%

Incidentally CAS# 3194-55-6 is registered as Hexabromocyclododecane... the worst of the worste, the baddest of the bromine bunch. And is the very chemical being banned globally.

Could this be the same TOXIC bromine flame retardant being BANNED for use IN ANYTHING? And that folks in AP are trying to stay away from? Surely El Ray (or his lawyers) in all their combined wisdom must have checked this out already? Someone as "professional" and as thorough, whos clients do $100,000,000 a year in hydroponic produce would know about this? Maybe it was just some printing mistake at the "MSDS Print Shop"...

This self proclaimed "hydroponics system designer" (who so far seems to know surprisingly little about how hydroponic systems work btw) is actually advocating replacing a product which does not appear to use components of dubious toxicological status, for one that uses chemicals THAT ARE BEING BANNED GLOBALLY, AND ARE WIDELY AS WELL AS GENERALLY KNOWN AS TOXIC TO WATER LIVING ORGANISMS, AND MADE THE EPS's OWN "Chemicals of Concern" list.

Nice one El Ray. Way to go. Thanks a bunch. I would't trust you to design a pepperoni pizza.

I don't usually make negative personal comments on this forum, but the sheer recklessness (and until a third party whom I trust can confirm your "Dow rep" story, because I've not been able to goad such a response out of them, in my head I'm counting that story as an outright lie) of your en devour leads me to believe that... a) your a total and complete moron or, b) have a vested financial interest in moving the (toxic component containing) Insulfoam boards...or quite possibly both.

http://www.insulfoam.com/images/stories/docs/MSDS.pdf

(I apologize to everyone in advance for the tone of that last paragraph). 

Hehe. Good rant, Vlad. I know you weren't insulted by my dick comment, but just to be clear to Bob, I meant no offense. Usually when Vlad ruffles feathers, he calls himself a "sardonic dick" just to diffuse the situation. I was just cutting to the punch. :D

"Nice one El Ray. Way to go. Thanks a bunch. I would't trust you to design a pepperoni pizza.". Haha. Awesome

Yeah Bob no worries. Jon knows me pretty well and was just pal-ing around. Thanks though, I appreciate your kind words of support. I’ll be the first to admit it though I can be a real dick especially when I think someone is purposely trying to sow confusion and fear for the purpose of personal profit. My wife on the other hand thinks that the guy is just an idiot, but I’ll give him ‘the benefit of the doubt’ and think he knows exactly what he is doing…

I’m an old guy (just like Jon) and a couple of things I’ve come to learn is that 1) when someone proclaims themselves an “expert” the way this guy has on his page (…an ”agricultural sustainability expert”…) they are more often than not, anything but…and are just as often, trying to sell something.

And 2) in another thread this guy put forth an idea that the reason ‘hard’ tap water’s pH bounces back up after you add acid is because Oxygen levels are low…which is fine, we all say stuff and make mistakes sometimes, as we are all human, but when I disagreed and listed why I didn’t think that was the case, the one and only, sole argument he put forth to support his theory was that ‘his clients do $100,000,000 a year in produce’ so therefore he knows what he is talking about. I mean WTF! Someone (a self proclaimed ‘expert’) who quotes irrelevant sales figures to support an argument is probably up to no good, either by willful design or natural inclination. Is our capacity to think critically supposed to be blinded and come to a screeching halt at the sight of such a big shiny number?

I believe (meaning it is my opinion) that El Ray is very aware of the “sleight of hand” he tried to pull off by combining the idea that Dow’s product will leach toxins into your system (not real), and that Dow does not endorse the use of their product in AP (real). So when anybody who bothered to called Dow they’d get the standard “we don’t endorse our product be used in such a way” answer from them and that caller would then equate that to “aha, so it’s true, blue board will leach chemicals into my system”, thereby spreading and giving credence to this un-truth. Which is probably exactly why he made it a point to badger people into calling Dow themselves. To “see for themselves”. Next I imagine Mr.El Ray would have ‘kindly’ directed us all to the Insulfoam manufacturer. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be something as mundane and ordinary as his father-in-law is the owner of the Chino factory, and El Ray was just trying to drum up business…Anyways…

If it turns out that my wife is right, and that the guy is just a ‘run of the mill idiot’, as opposed to an unscrupulously greedy bastard from the hydro industry who saw a business opportunity (which would still make him an idiot in my book), I’d be more than happy to apologize to this idiot, but I fear that is one of those things which we just may never find out. 

Vlad,in an attempt to pull some positive aspects out of this slug fest I think this would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast all of the expanded foam board types to show which ones will work and which ones won't so instead of having this kind of circular conversations in the future we can just point people in the direction of this thread.

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