Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride, (PVC) is the most hazardous plastic from a health and an environmental stand point. Yet it is the ‘evil’ that has found a way of crawling into every other house item from children’s toys, to building materials and even food packaging.
Why PVC is Extremely Toxic
According to Health Organizations Agency for Research and Cancer (IARC), the chemical used in making PVC (vinyl chloride) has been categorized as a human carcinogen. Manufacturing companies that produce PVCs put both its workers and people living around the company at risk as a result of exposing them to chemicals that pollute their air, soils, and even water.
Another carcinogenic compound that is caused by the incineration and manufacture of PVC is dioxins. This substance can cause a wide range of health effects that developmental and learning delays, diabetes, endometriosis, birth defects, immune system abnormalities and even cancer. Scientists have determined one strain of dioxin as the most potent carcinogen that was ever tested.
PVC also contains toxic additives which are also substances that when you use everyday could also greatly impact your health.
How Does One Get Exposed to These Dioxins?
To get this picture, we sought advice from one of the plumbers involved in HVAC installation in Dallas. He explains:
“Dioxins are normally released from the factories that manufacture PVC or other sources like during combustion or disposal of PVCs. From here they find their way into the air, soil and water and end up in plants that are eaten by animals. Since our main source of food as humans is plant and animals, we ingest these dioxins from the foods we eat. Animal fat especially, have a high accumulation of dioxins and when we eat dairy products and meat from the animals the dioxins are transferred to us. 95% of human exposure to dioxins occurs through food.”
Did you know…?
- Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), a component of PVC, is a suspected human carcinogen?
- Approximately 108 volatile organic chemicals can be released into the air by just one PCV shower curtain? In this group of chemicals there are those that can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver damage, respiratory damage, damage to the reproductive system as well as developmental damage in children?
- Although the use of PVC in product manufacture has been somehow regulated in product manufacture in the US, they still find their way in through imported products in even higher amounts. A study conducted on children’s items found out that the levels of lead in these products were 30 to 100 times higher than the federal limit for lead.
What’s the Way Forward?
If we want to protect our world for the next generation, and protect our kids too, then we have no choice but to avoid PVC. And the only way to do this is if we can recognize it’s made of PVC and reject them for alternatives.
In the US, products made of PVC have the letters “PVC” or #3 besides recycling symbol with three arrows on it.
Unfortunately there are notorious companies that don’t indicate whether they have used PVC or no. For items with no identification, you should contact the manufacturer to make inquiries especially if you want to purchase in large quantity.
The good news is that information about the “evil” nature of PVC has traveled far and wide and many manufacturers have stopped using PVC in their products. One good example of these companies is IKEA which has stopped using PVC in the manufacture of their textiles, furniture and wall coverings.
Although it may look like the battle for a PVC-free world has been lost there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. More and more people are becoming aware of the harmful effects of PVC and are realizing that they can use alternative product. You as an individual can join this fight by keeping off purchase of PVC products.