PVC is likely the most toxic plastic to human health and our environment. It contains numerous dangerous chemicals including vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, dioxins, lead, cadmium and phthalates.
PVC additives and there effects on the human body
Phthalates – Phthalates are chemicals used in PVC to make them more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates are widely considered to be carcinogenic and may adversely affect human reproduction and development.
Vinyl chloride – Vinyl chloride produces liver damage through both inhalation and oral exposure. In addition, several studies have indicated negative effects on male sexual performance.
Cadmium – Cadmium is a metal. When breathed, cadmium will severely damage the lungs and in some cases can cause death. The metal accumulates in the kidneys and damages filtering mechanisms.
Ethylene dichloride - Ethylene dichloride is carcinogenic. Specifically, it has been linked to incidence of colon and rectal cancer in men over 55 years of age.
Lead – The health effects of lead are widely known. It can negatively affect almost every organ in the human body. Its effects on children are particularly disturbing. It is linked to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, slowed growth, anemia and hearing problems.
Dioxins – Exposure to dioxins has been linked to several types of cancer. In addition, Long-term exposure has been linked to impairment of the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.
PVC products have been banned in Sweden since 1995. Denmark has imposed a tax on its use. In 1998 the United States banned the use of PVC in toys; however, it is still being used widely in building materials. The alternatives to PVC are numerous. Greenpeace has published a list of alternatives to almost every commonly used PVC product. The link to this list can be found below.