The Dangers of Polyvinyl Chloride Plastic (known as PVC)

In my last article I discussed some of the dangers and chemicals associated with back-to-school supplies. One of the toxins commonly present in school supplies is Polyvinyl chloride plastic (known as PVC). I had not heard about the dangers of this plastic before, so I decided to further investigate the dangers associated with PVC plastic.

PVC is a material that is commonly used in many different forms of products. Toys, vinyl flooring and seating, shower curtains, dishes, and some technology items all use PVC as a form of plastic. Fifty percent of all PVC plastic manufactured is used for building supplies because it is cheap. Until recently it was not known that this plastic can pose a dangerous health risk.

Research over the past few years has uncovered that many of the byproducts of PVC can create serious health risks over time. Since PVC is present in so many of a household’s products, the amount of harmful byproducts that are breathed or ingested can be quite high.

PVC gives off many byproducts that have been shown to cause cancer and other health issues. One of the most common byproducts is DEHP. This phthalate is a known carcinogen. Another common additive to PVC gives off harmful dioxins which can pollute the air for years.

People who are at the highest risk of receiving health issues from PVC are those who work in the manufacturing plants that create the plastic. Firefighters and other people who work with heated or melting PVC are also at a high risk. The most emissions are given off in the initial creation of the product and when it is reheated.

PVC is also almost impossible to recycle. This is due to the high level of additives that are placed in the plastic to make it pliable. The addition of PVC to a recycling plant can cause the contamination of other forms of plastics due to the chemicals in PVC.

Since there are safer alternative to PVC, many environmental groups have started campaigning to get retailers and other companies to stop the use of PVC in their products. California is considering the ban of PVC throughout the whole state. Some of the retailers who have agreed to eliminate PVC are: Wal-mart, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, and Bath and Body Works.

If you are interested in learning more about PVC or how to get retailers to eliminate the plastic from their products then you can visit the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice at This site offers more information about PVC plastic and how to get involved.

Brenda Priddy is a wife, mother, and freelance writer. She resides in north Texas with her husband, Josh, and their 4 year old daughter. She blogs at Daily Mayo.

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