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AEC Releases Two New White Papers on Aluminum Extrusions in the Built Environment

architectural building facade© by Christian L

The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) released two new white papers as part of its “Aluminum Extrusions in the Built Environment” series. The series is intended to help building and construction professionals better understand the advantages of and details relating to aluminum extrusions used in commercial construction applications. The two new papers are Aluminum Extrusions: Viruses and Bacteria and Aluminum Extrusions: Building Occupant Health and Safety.

Viruses and Bateria

During this time of extreme health concern, the material choices by specifiers may impact the spread of viruses, bacteria and infectious diseases and therefore must carefully be considered. The white paper, Aluminum Extrusions: Viruses and Bacteria, was developed to address concerns that have arisen related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While research into SARS CoV2 (COVID-19) is still ongoing, information on the survival rates of similar viruses, as well as bacteria, on aluminum and a variety of other surfaces is available. Research shows that the longevity of two known coronavirus (HCov) strains, 229E and OC43, is limited to just hours on aluminum compared to days on other material surfaces, including steel, PVC, plastic, and glass, among others. In addition to the data indicating shorter viability of viruses and bacteria on aluminum, there are a variety of antimicrobial technologies that can be used in aluminum finishing processes that are believed to instill antimicrobial benefits (an example is the technology developed by A3 Surfaces). The white paper provides an overview of some of these antimicrobial anodizing and paint treatments.

Health and Safety

The white paper, Aluminum Extrusions: Building Occupant Health and Safety, addresses the ever-growing concern about toxic substances in building products — in other words, chemicals and compounds considered to be worst-in-class in terms of toxicity or health impacts, otherwise known as Red List materials. Avoiding Red List products is intended to ensure that building occupants’ health is protected. This white paper explains that “across the array of commercial building product options, extruded aluminum offers building material specifiers a healthy and safe choice, especially when compared to chemically treated or plastic-based materials.”

Additionally, the paper addresses aluminum finishes and thermal insulating materials commonly used in architectural aluminum extrusion applications, and their relationship to the Red List. Aluminum extrusions are naturally free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Furthermore, the application of liquid paint coatings used on some aluminum extrusions are subject to “low VOC” restrictions and standards, which are managed during application in the manufacturing facility and are not associated with off-gassing from cured, final product. Neither polyamide nor polyurethane materials used in extruded aluminum thermal barrier products are considered toxic, nor are they on the Red List. An outline of some of the available product transparency tools to assist architects in selecting building materials based on environmental considerations is also included in the paper.

Find these white papers, as well as others covering additional topics, on the AEC website.

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