Dangers of PVC
Most vinyl products are believed to be generally harmless
when used properly. However, some of the
softeners leach out of certain vinyl products. Even
though soft PVC toys have been made for babies for years,
studies find that these additives leach out of soft toys
into the mouths of the children chewing on them. Vinyl IV
bags used in neo-natal intensive care units have also been
shown to leach DEHP (di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate), a phthalate
additive. In Europe, phthalate additives in PVC toys for
children under the age of three have been banned and in
the USA, most companies have voluntarily stopped manufacturing
PVC toys for this age group or have eliminated the phthalates.
However, alternative softeners have not been properly tested
to determine whether they are safe. Other vinyl products
like brand new car interiors, shower curtains, and flooring,
to name a few, initially release chemical gases into the
Some studies indicate that this outgassing of additives
may contribute to health complications, but the information
on this is preliminary and needs further study.
According to some medical studies, the plasticizers added
to PVC may cause chronic conditions such as
Raynaud's syndrome, scleroderma, angiosarcoma, brain cancer and acroosteolysis.
In the late 1960's, Dr. John Creech, and Dr. Maurice
Johnson, were the first to clearly link and recognize the
carcinogenicity of vinyl chloride monomer to humans; workers
in the polyvinyl chloride polymerization section of a B.F.
Goodrich plant near Louisville, Kentucky, were diagnosed
with liver angiosarcoma, a rare disease. Since that time,
studies of PVC workers in Australia, Italy, Germany, and
the U.K. have all associatied occupational cancers with
exposure to vinyl chloride.
The environmentalist group Greenpeace has advocated the
global phase-out of PVC because dioxin is produced as a
byproduct of vinyl chloride manufacture.