Thursday, December 13, 2007

Health Affects of PVC - The Poison Plastic

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC, or Vinyl) is one of the most commonly used materials in the consumer marketplace. PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl) is widely used in toys and other children's products and is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.

For soft applications, such as toys designed for chewing ("teethers"), softeners or plasticisers are added to give the desired flexibility. Although a range of chemicals are used as softeners, phthalate esters (phthalates) are by far the most commonly used. These added
plasticizers allow the chains to slide against each other. DEHP (Di-Ethylhexyl Phthalate) and DINP (diisononyl phthalate) are the most commonly used Phthalates, and are still used as a plasticizer. DEHP and DINP do not vaporize easily at room temperature, but do migrate out of the plastic as a vapor over 30° C (86° F). Under relatively slight pressure, phthalates will exude from PVC. As little as 1/10 kilogram per square centimeter (1.4 lb/sq. inch) can result in loss of 30% of the plasticizer. (from: PVC Handbook by C. P. Hall, plasticizer manufacturer). The livers of very young infants do not metabolize DEHP and DINP as efficiently as those of adults, placing infants at higher risk.

Phthalates do not bind to the PVC, remaining present as a freely mobile and leachable phase in the plastic. As a consequence, phthalates are continuously lost from soft PVC over time. Contact and pressure, such as that applied during teething or play, can increase the rates at which these chemicals leach from the plastic. Phthalates accumulate in body tissues, and can damage liver, lungs, and have been shown in lower mammals to damage reproductive organs. Phthalates are freely given off by plastics in which they occur. This is caused by mechanical stress (bending, pressure, chewing) and temperatures over 85° F, which causes it to migrate in gas form.

Children in contact with soft PVC toys may, therefore, ingest substantial quantities of phthalates during normal play, especially from toys specifically designed to be chewed. This is of concern as phthalates are known to present a number of hazards. The limited research available to date on the composition of phthalates in PVC toys has raised concerns over the potential for exposure of children to these chemicals. Despite this, manufacturers do not provide information on the types or quantities of additives present in toys. Effects recorded include liver and kidney disorders, damage to the reproductive tract, increased incidence of certain forms of cancer and diverse effects on development and metabolism. More recently, research has revealed that DINP and DEHP show weak activity as a mimic of the hormone estrogen in human cell lines.

When purchased for laboratory use, DINP is labelled with a number of hazard phrases, including "harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed", "possible risk of irreversible effects" and "may cause cancer". In contrast, toys containing up to 40% by weight DINP in a readily leachable form are frequently labelled "non toxic".


A number of other compounds were identified in some of the toys, generally at lower but significant concentrations. DBP (dibutyl phthalate) and BBP (butylbenzyl phthalate), found in several toys, are known to be particularly hazardous. The estrogenic chemical nonylphenol was isolated from 13 toys, while 2 toys were found to contain the fungicide Fungitrol 11 (Folpet). The Danish EPA has recently demonstrated that the leaching of phthalates, particularly DINP, from teething toys can be substantial. This has been supported by similar studies in other countries and has led, in some cases, to recommendations that certain toys be withdrawn or even that the use of soft PVC in toys for young children should be discontinued.

A study carried out by Greenpeace has demonstrated that phthalates, particularly DINP and DEHP, are widely and abundantly used in high contact children's toys. Their use represents a significant potential for exposure of children to chemical hazards, of particular concern during sensitive periods of development. Although it is practically impossible to make accurate predictions of dose, exposure to such hazards is clearly unacceptable. The only way to avoid direct intake of phthalates is to eliminate the use of PVC in all soft toy applications.

The "Center for Health, Environment & Justice" has the following information:

Sears/Kmart Become Latest Retail Giants To Phase Out Toxic PVC Plastic, Major Source Of Lead, Phthalates, And Dioxin Exposure (read news release here)

VICTORY! Target to Systematically Reduce PVC in Infant Products, Children's Toys, Shower Curtains, Packaging (read news release here)

Ask Wal-Mart to Declare Independence from PVC Today! Send a message to Wal-Mart's CEO and ask them to phase out the poison plastic. (Sign the petetion here)

1 comment:

lawnenforcement118 said...

I have been working with PVC pipe for 30 + years . My body aches everything hurts . i was thinking it was from the hard work . But it doesnt seem right i, I shouldnt hurt this bad . Is it from the P V C Pipe and the glue and primer that i put on it and breath in all day ?