PVC Pamphlet.indd by fjhuangjun


What do the following have in common?                                    Ever wondered about that new car smell or the smell
Apparel:                Checkbook covers           Office Supplies:        of a new shower curtain? This is the smell of chemicals
Aprons                  Fake Christmas trees       Binders               that can evaporate or leach out of PVC products,
Bags                    Imitation leather          Cellular phones
Backpacks Bibs          furniture                  Clipboards            which effectively pose a possible health risk consumers.
Boots                   Mattress covers            Computer keyboards    One of the most common toxic additives is DEHP,
Diaper covers           Pet care product           Computer monitor
Lingerie                containers                 housing               which is a phthalate that is a suspected carcinogen
Luggage                 Photo album sheets         Floppy disks          and reproductive toxicant commonly found in many
Raincoats               Self-adhesive labels and   Mouse pads
Rain pants              stickers                   Paper clips           PVC products. Children are commonly exposed to

                                                                                                                                    The Poison
Skirts                  Shelving                   Tape                  phthalates when they chew on soft plastic toys which
Shoes                   Strollers                  Outdoor Items:
T-shirts prints         Shower curtains            Balls                 commonly contain both PVC and phthalates which
Watchband               Textiles                   Children’s swimming   are used soften the PVC. In July, 2005 the European

Cars:                   Toys                       pools
Auto-related product    Waterbeds                  Garden hoses          Parliament voted to permanently ban the use of
containers              Kitchen Items:             Greenhouses           certain toxic phthalates in toys. US EPA study have
Car seats Dashboard     Appliance casings          Inflatable furniture
Door panels             Beverage containers        Outdoor furniture     found that PVC can cause elevated levels of dangerous
Traffic cones             Dish drying racks          Pond liners           air toxins, which can persist for more than a month.
Upholstery              (covers metal to           Tarps
Building Materials:
Cavity insulation
                        prevent rusting)
                                                   Personal Care Items
                                                                                                                                   PVC, which stands for polyvinyl
Door frames
Door gaskets
                        refrigerator and freezer
                                                   Aloe Vera Gel
                                                   Baby oil                                                                        chloride, is a component of
Fencing                 Drinking straws            Face Wash
                        Food containers
                        Food wrap
                                                   Hair gel
                                                   Liquid soap
                                                                                                                                   plastic commonly used in
                                                                                                                                   consumer products, and widely
Moulding                Plastic utensils           Lotion
Pipes                   Tablecloth                 Massage oil
Shutters                Medical Supplies:          Mouthwash
Wall coverings
                        Bed liners
                        Blood bags
                                                   Suntan lotion                                                                   used in medical products. Not
Window frames           Catheters                  Miscellaneous:
Wire/cable insulation
Household Items:
                        Colostomy bags
                                                   Credit cards
                                                   Landfill liners and
                                                                                                                                   only is PVC itself poisonous to
Cleaning product
Clothes racks
                        Mattress covers
                                                   leachate pipes
                                                   Slide holders                                                                   those who live close to factories
                                                                                                                                   where it is manufactured, but
They are all PVC-containing products commonly
found in your home. This list is meant to be a
                                                                          P O Box 2375                                             its use and disposal also cause
starting point for identifying what common products
                                                                          Pietermaritzburg, KZN
                                                                          South Africa, 3200                                       the release of toxic chemicals
are packaged in or made from PVC. Generally soft
flexible plastic products that are made with PVC                                                                                    such as dioxin. Added to this is

                                                                          Tel: +27 (0)33 342 5662
have a distinct odour. They also often carry the PVC
recycling sign.
                                                                          Fax: +27 (0)33 342 5665
                                                                          e-mail: musa@groundwork.org.za
                                                                                                                                   the danger of phthalates, which
                                                                                                                                   are added to PVC to make it
                                                                                                                                            more flexible.
The manufacture of PVC products releases toxic            organs. It is classified as a probable human carcinogen    alternatives. India has had a PVC incineration ban
chemicals and dioxin into the air around the factories,   by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and            in place since 1998. The World Health Organisation
which disproportionately affects poor communities          studies have shown that it may also cause damage to       is advocating for the selection of PVC-free medical
and communities of colour. And the incineration           the heart, liver, and kidneys, and may interfere with     devices as a short term solution to medical waste
of waste containing PVC also releases dioxin. In a        sperm production                                          problems. And in the Philippines, the government
medical setting, commonly used PVC products                                                                         has also stated that, where possible, PVC-free medical
include intravenous bags, tubing, blood bags and           Phthalates, called “plasticizers”, are a group of in-    supplies should be used.
oxygen tents – not to mention other products such as       dustrial chemicals used to make plastics like poly-
mattress covers, packaging, and office supplies.                                                                      Safer, Healthier Alternatives
                                                           vinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible or resilient and
                                                           also as solvents. Phthalates are nearly ubiquitous       Safer, cost-effective alternatives to PVC are readily
 Dioxin is a human carcinogen and is considered            in modern society, found in, among other things,         available for virtually every use. You can help build
 to be one of the most poisonous classes of                toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower cur-      consumer demand for safer, healthier products by
 chemicals in the world. It is a toxic byproduct of        tains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants,        avoiding the purchase of PVC. One way to be sure
 the manufacture and incineration of products that         adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and       if the packaging of a product is made from PVC
 contain chlorine. It causes cancer, birth defects, and    shampoo.                                                 is to look for the number “3” inside or the letter
 other reproductive problems such as endometriosis.                                                                 “V” underneath the universal recycling symbol. In
 It also causes brain defects in babies and children,                                                               addition, soft flexible plastic products that are made
                                                          The dangers are magnified for babies in neonatal           with PVC often have a distinct odor, such as vinyl
 affects the immune systems of adults and children
                                                          intensive care units, where researchers at the Harvard    shower curtains. If you suspect that a product is made
 (especially babies), and decreases hormone levels
                                                          School of Public Health have shown that exposure          of PVC, contact the product manufacturer and ask
 such as testosterone and thyroid hormones.
                                                          levels are especially high.                               them directly about the materials used in the product
 Dioxin is especially dangerous for prenatal babies                                                                 or packaging and your concerns about PVC.
                                                          And it is not solely in the medical setting that people
 and newborns because it bioaccumulates – this
                                                          are exposed to phthalates. Exposure comes from a
 means that it builds up in the food chain, in
                                                          variety of sources, including beauty products, PVC
 meat, eggs, dairy and fish, for example. And it is
                                                          toys, vinyl shower curtains, car seats, wallpaper and
 concentrated in breastmilk, posing an increased
                                                          many other consumer products.
 danger to breastfed babies.
                                                          Fortunately, a growing number of hospitals, health
                                                          systems, communities and manufacturers are reducing
Furthermore, the addition of phthalates to PVC            PVC and DEHP use around the world.
products to add flexibility adds even more dangers.
DEHP (di-ethylhexyl phthalate) is the most common         While these efforts are primarily taking place in
phthalate that is used in medical devices, and has been   Europe, the US and Japan, there are also some
shown to leach into solutions given to patients. DEHP     initiatives in developing countries.
has been linked to reproductive defects in animal
studies. It is especially dangerous for pregnant or       For example, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the
breastfeeding women, newborns, and male children,         Neonatal Unit at Rivadavia Hospital has replaced the
where DEHP can affect development of reproductive          majority of DEHP containing products with silicon

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