The Perils of PVC

The health and environmental risks of PVC.

| September/October 2004

Polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC or vinyl, is an inexpensive, widely used synthetic material. Unfortunately, PVC has numerous health and environmental risks:

• PVC manufacturing creates dioxin, a potent carcinogen that accumulates in fatty tissue and breast milk.

• Produces ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride, which are linked to endocrine disruption, endometriosis, neurological damage, birth defects, impaired childhood development, and reproductive and immune system damage.

• Often contains toxic stabilizers such as lead, cadmium, and phthalate plasticizers (particularly DEHP, a softener), which can seep from PVC products and may contribute to asthma, lead poisoning, and cancer.

• When exposed to extreme heat, PVC releases deadly gases such as hydrogen chloride.

• If PVC ignites, it releases dioxins, making it a danger in building fires.

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