Day 179 – What is PVC?
PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. PVC is everywhere around us because it is such a versatile material. It is used in toys, bottles, packaging, bedding, construction materials, wire coatings, clothing, piping, and furnishings, just to name a few. PVC is the third most popular type of plastic. This year, PVC production is expected to reach 51 million metric tons, worldwide.
Should we be concerned about PVC?
“PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies can be contaminated with the chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.” – Children’s Environmental Health Network
Ever notice that smell after opening a new shower curtain or opening up a new inflatable pool or that new car smell?
That smell occurs as a result of off gassing. Off gassing is when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released into the air that you breathe. Volatile organic compounds can be all kinds of chemicals. There are thousands of chemicals allowed to be used in materials intended for use in your home, workplace or vehicles every day. In fact, around 80,000 new chemicals have been invented since World War II. Some off gassing VOCs are thought to be carcinogenic, which means they cause cancer. Other VOCs can be harmful when mixed with other chemicals. PVC plastic undergoes off gassing.
Sadly, PVC is found in many of the items we use throughout the summer. Thankfully, many manufacturers are beginning to move away from the use of this plastic.
Here are some suggestions to avoid PVC this summer.
Swimming Pools – The Safe Parent created a list of Non-Toxic and Hard Plastic Kiddie Pools. The pools listed are all PVC free.
Life Vests – Many summer activities may include the use of a life vest. Unfortunately, many are made with PVC. There are PVC free options, but you’ll have to look for them. Make sure the foam insert is made from PE foam, EVA form or Gaia foam. Brands like NRS, Stohlquist and Astral offer PVC free vests, just to name a few.
Pool Floaties – It is next to impossible to find a pool floatie not made with PVC. I could not find any in my search, but that’s not to say they do not exist. The best advice I could give is to avoid the pool floatie if you can. If not, at least give it a few days outside to off gas. Pool floaties are also not recyclable. So, that beachball, water wings and giant donut inner tube will end up in a landfill after they have popped.
Pool toys – Many children toys are made from PVC plastic. Green Toys are PVC free and have a fun line of water toys. Which would be great for the pool!
I can honestly say that I did not avoid PVC plastic when my kids were younger. I didn’t know I had to. Hopefully, this information will help make your future purchases easier, knowing to avoid polyvinyl chloride.
Tomorrow, tips on having an environmentally friendly block party.