What are the environmental impacts of neoprene fiber?
For years neoprene has been used for manufacturing wetsuits. It is a synthetic man-made material that is produced from petrochemical derivatives and many chemicals. The production of neoprene involves chlorinating and polymerizing butadiene which is a petrochemical refined obtained from crude oil. This process consumes a lot of energy and uses a lot of petroleum and limestone as their raw material. Both these materials used in production are non-renewable in nature and are extracted from the earth. Their extraction impacts the environment. This not only has a negative impact on nature but also affects biodiversity very badly.
The chemical processing during the production process of neoprene emits toxic gases into the atmosphere which contribute to climate change and increase the number of greenhouse gases. Some researches have proved that these gases may cause cancer. Neoprene is a synthetic substance whose production produces a lot of waste which takes a lot of time to decompose. This is contributing to global production.
The raw material chloroprene which is used for neoprene production is highly flammable. And the mishandling of this substance may cause fires or explosions which will release toxic fumes in the air which is very bad both for the environment and humans. Exposure to high concentrations of chloroprene leads to a lot of illnesses like giddiness, headache, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, respiratory irritation, cardiac palpitations, chest pains, nausea, etc.
Through limestone, neoprene is considered a greener material but the manufacturing process of neoprene from limestone consumes a lot of energy resources. Though the energy consumption of limestone neoprene is less than that of petroleum-based neoprene. This also questions whether the limestone is sourced by proper mining activities or questionable mining practices.