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The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) today released its 2011 Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies [http://www.chej.org/publications/PVCGuide/PVCfree.pdf] to help parents choose safer, PVC-free school supplies. The guide is being released just in time for back-to-school shopping. Parents across the country are stocking up on binders and lunchboxes. But while it's easy to know the healthiest foods to pack in those lunchboxes, many parents are not aware of the toxic plastic used to make them. In fact, the average child's character-themed backpack is filled with supplies and materials made from the most toxic plastic for our health and environment, polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl).
A new 2011 study found PVC is the most widely used hazardous plastic in the world. Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful health effects of toxic chemicals, such as phthalates, lead and dioxin, that are released by the PVC lifecycle. These chemicals are linked to chronic diseases on the rise in children including learning and developmental disabilities, asthma, obesity and cancer.
"Parents have a right to know about toxic chemicals in children's products," said Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator for the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. "Unfortunately, many school supplies are made out of PVC or vinyl plastic, the most toxic plastic for our health and the environment. This plastic can contain a toxic stew of phthalates, lead, cadmium, and organotins-it's a recipe for disaster. Thankfully parents can now find safer and affordable products for their children with our 2011 Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies."
CHEJ is releasing the expanded 4th Annual Edition of their popular Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies to help parents make informed and safer shopping choices. Over thirty-five categories of school supplies, from backpacks to lunchboxes and computers, are covered in the guide. A wallet-sized version is also available.
A few of the top tips for avoiding toxic PVC school supplies are:
1. Avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and may contain lead.
2. Use cloth lunchboxes or metal lunchboxes. Many lunchboxes are made of PVC, or coated with PVC on the inside.
3. Used cardboard, fabric-covered, or polypropylene binders. Most 3-ring binders are made of PVC.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contains dangerous chemical additives such as phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to a child's health. Over 90% of all phthalates are used to soften PVC products. While phthalates have been banned in toys, they are still used in children's school supplies and other PVC products. PVC is also a major source of dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. Dioxin has been targeted for international phase-out by a treaty signed by over 170 nations across the world.
In response to PVC's toxic lifecycle, leading corporations such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Target, Sears Holdings and others have pledged to phase out or reduce the use of PVC. Over 100 healthcare institutions are reducing or eliminating PVC. Both Congress and the President's Cancer Panel have called for greater regulation of such toxic chemicals in consumer products, but parents can act now to protect their children's health by making smart shopping choices.
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