PVC is everywhere. It’s commonly used in bath toys, teethers, baby bibs, inflatable pool toys, children’s playground ball pits, dog toys, shower curtains, mattress covers, cling wrap and in most non-slip bath mats. And that’s just for starters! There is a growing awareness of polyvinyl chloride’s toxic nature, but the quest to avoid it is rather daunting because there isn’t as much demand for PVC-free products.
I often hear the question, “But what if I find a toy made from phthalate-free PVC? Isn’t it safer?” No. And here’s why – PVC requires the addition of chlorine. Chlorine is one major health concern associated with PVC, but it isn’t the only problem. Earth911 discusses the full effects PVC, and the facts are stunning:
- Due to its chlorinated makeup, the entire life cycle of vinyl is responsible for the formation of more dioxin than any other single product. Dioxin is a well-known carcinogen and can affect the reproductive, immune, endocrine and neurological systems.
- Chlorine production for PVC results in the release of over 200,000 pounds of mercury to air, water and land each year.
- To make vinyl products flexible, phthalates are used as plasticiers, accounting for nearly 90 percent of total phthalate consumption. This translates into more than five million tons used for vinyl every year.
- Lead is often added to vinyl construction products as a stabilizer to extend its life. It is estimated that 45,000 tons of lead each year are released into the environment during its disposal by incineration.
Now we know why we should avoid BPA, PVC and phthalates, but how in the world do we do it? I’ll be sharing simple tips on avoiding each chemical in the final piece of this series.