Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Posts Tagged ‘PVC’


My 2-year-old nephew is very excited for Christmas. When I asked him what he would like Santa (aka, me) to bring, he exclaimed, “Toyyyyys!!!!” I should have known. 

Being the fastidious Aunt I am, I started researching presents. I came across what appeared to be common toys: train sets, stuffed animals, fire trucks, building blocks, books, puzzles. Then I came across a startling website that exposed the toxic truth behind many of today’s popular toys.

Toxic Toys R Us is working to inform consumers and investors about the dangerous chemicals lurking in children’s toys at Toys R Us—particularly PVC--the poison plastic. PVC has been linked to chronic diseases in children, birth defects, cancer, endocrine system disruption, reproductive impairment, and immune system suppression. Bottom line: PVC is really bad news.

You may be wondering why they are targeting just Toys R Us when there are numerous toy stores on the market. In 2008, Toys R Us made a promise to reduce PVC plastics, phthalates, and lead in children’s and infant’s toys--a promise they broke. Toys R Us continues to sell products containing PVC without warnings or labels of any kind.

A report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) points out “in order for PVC to be used in toys, it must be mixed with lead, cadmium or organic chemicals containing tin.” When ingested, these chemicals are extremely toxic, especially for children. I think about my nephew playing with a PVC-laden toy, and imagine him biting it, or sticking it in the mouth of his younger sister. Though toys aren’t meant to be eaten, kids inadvertently ingest chemicals from them all the time.

What can you do to make sure the kids you care about aren’t being exposed to toxic chemicals? Take action and sign a petition urging Congress to eliminate PVC in toys. Share this story with your friends and family to help expose the truth. And most importantly, avoid buying toys containing PVC. Sign up with CHEJ to download a PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home.


Here are some companies and makers of non-toxic toys, suggested by our readers:

Posted by on December 2nd, 2010 No Comments

Green Halloween

My friends and I take Halloween very seriously. Each year we have a “group theme,” and work on our costumes for weeks leading up to the big day. 

Although we consider ourselves Halloween experts, we were in the dark about how horrifically toxic this holiday can be. Lead in children’s face paints, phthalates in masks, and costumes made from PVC are just a few of the ghastly truths I unveiled in my research. Luckily, thanks to several informative blogs and websites, there are ways to have a Green Halloween.

Some tips:

  1. Avoid face paint. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s Report Pretty Scary revealed children’s face paints contain lead, nickel, cobalt and/or chromium, among other unidentified ingredients like “fragrance.” If you need to paint your face, check out some of these home-made face paint recipes.
  2. Ditch the Colored Hair Sprays. They contain toxic chemicals and shouldn’t be sprayed around eyes, mouth, nose, and definitely shouldn’t be inhaled! As that is pretty much impossible to avoid, opt for a wig instead.
  3. Buy PVC-Free Masks & Costumes. Community Mama reports many Halloween masks and costumes are made from PVC (the poison plastic) which can leach harmful gender-bending phthalates. If you can’t avoid them, look for ones that are marked “PVC-Free,” or make your own from what you have at home.
  4. Avoid Phthalates in Masks & Teeth. The reason those false teeth and masks are so flexible is because they’re made with endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Try making your own mask instead, or painting your face with homemade face paint.
  5. Steer Clear of Traditional Nail Polish. Most contain formaldehyde, tolulene, and acetone. Get Green Be Well recommends Hopscotch Kids or Piggy Paint as a safer alternative.
  6. Decorate Naturally. Opt for pumpkins, gourds, and cornstalks, instead of plastic decorations. You won’t be harming your guests, and it will look a lot less cheesy.
  7. Light Soy Candles.  Planet Green reports traditional candles are made from petroleum-based paraffin, carcinogens, neurotoxins, and reproductive toxins. Soy candles are safer, renewable, and biodegradable.
  8. Hand out organic, or natural treats. Organic chocolate is pesticide-free and lead-free.  It’s also full of powerful antioxidants. 

Posted by on October 14th, 2010 No Comments

Looking Great and Staying Green with Jelly Shoes

Remember Jelly shoes from the late 80’s/early 90’s?  I sure do! I loved them and wore them throughout my childhood.  So you can imagine how excited I was when I found these—the new and improved jellies! 

Original jellies were made out of PVC (the notorious “poison plastic”). But these new kicks by Melissa Plastic Dreams have an environmentally-friendly twist. 

Melissa Plastic Dreams uses sustainable development in order to provide these retro, plastic fashions to current plastic shoe connoisseurs everywhere without compromising the needs of inevitable future generations.   They are all made out of mono plastics that can be dismantled, recycled, and reused.  Even the processes with which these shoes are made involve treating and recycling every solid, liquid, and gas within the factory in order to reduce waste. 

Now you no longer have to sacrifice your desire to stay green when fulfilling your passion for plastic fashion! Find these new jellies at Shopstyle.  Also, check out MindBodyGreen and their list of “3 Fierce Green Shoes” for more fashionable and environmentally friendly shoes. 

Additional green fashion tip: Read Summer Rayne Oakes’ best selling book Style, Naturally, which provides easy, and affordable options for staying green and looking great!  I will definitely be checking out this book as part of my continual process to be greener and more environmentally friendly.  What better way to start this somewhat overwhelming and daunting change in your life than by starting with your summer wardrobe!

Posted by on May 18th, 2010 No Comments

How do you take your tea? Cream? Sugar? PVC?

As an avid tea drinker (3 or 4 cups a day!), I was greatly disturbed when I was recently told that tea bags are often glued with PVC or other thermoplastics.  These can leach out when heated.  Add to that, many tea bags are bleached, as well, which can lead to dioxin leaching.

I'm an addict, so rather than give up the tea, I researched. It turns out, the toxic teabag tidbit was in fact true—at one time. Consumers were outraged when they learned about what was really holding tea bags together and about the bleaching processes of the tea paper.  Following the uproar, many companies spent their resources on rectifying the problem by finding new, innovative ways to keep the taste of a teabag neutral without bleaching.


Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that not all companies are being responsible. It is important to pay attention: tea companies felt the pressure to change because consumers made noise. With a wide range of resources now available to us, such a consumer reports, blogs, and online reviews, it is easier than ever to access more information on everyday products. Unless we consumers read product labels, and speak up when something does not add up with a product, there will never be anyone to make the changes that should be made.

We always have choices; there are plenty of alternatives to teabags on the market: tea balls, strainers, infusers ... find out what suits you best, and use the product that fits with your lifestyle.

Posted by on August 7th, 2009 No Comments

Go to the Head of the Class With Smart School Supplies

Aaahhh…September is right around the corner.  September signals summer slowly winding to an end, and for many adults, signals a renewed sense of purpose.  I think many of us “grown-ups” regard September as a kind of “New Year” as we are so used to associating this month with the start of a new school year.  So, in the spirit of my pseudo holiday, I have decided to take on a September New Year’s Resolution - I hereby resolve to send my sons back to school with PVC-free school supplies.


PVC, polyvinyl chloride, has been notoriously deemed the “poison plastic” for good reason.  Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives used to soften or stabilize it. These harmful chemicals include phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins. One could argue that no other plastic contributes to the release of as many reproductive health toxicants than PVC.  PVC’s lifecycle is one of the largest sources of dioxins in our environment.  Exposure to dioxin has been linked with birth defects, decreased fertility, inability to carry pregnancies to term, lowered testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, and decreased testis size.  Furthermore, several studies have detected measureable amounts of dioxin in women's breastmilk.

Additionally, PVC is responsible for the consumption of over 90% of all phthalates worldwide.  Phthalates must be added to PVC in large quantities – and can make up to 60% of the final product by weight.  Over 5 million tons of phthalates are used in vinyl every year, and more than 80 million tons of phthalates are estimated to be contained in the stock of PVC products now in use in buildings and other applications.  Exposure to phthalates has been linked to reproductive problems including shorter pregnancy duration, premature breast development in females and sperm damage and impaired reproductive development in males.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Yes, PVC is bad, but what on earth does PVC have to do with school supplies?”  Parents across the country are getting ready to stock up on binders and lunchboxes, and 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 toxic PVC. Lunchboxes, binders, vinyl backpacks, and even art supplies are frequently made out of PVC.  (more…)

Posted by on August 5th, 2009 1 Comment

Intoxicating Toxins


Not so long ago, I used to LOVE that new shower curtain smell. You know the one I mean. I remember inhaling so deeply, that I’d sometimes get a bit dizzy. Now I know that the intoxicating smell I once enjoyed was actually TOXIC – and perhaps reaping havoc with my health and reproductive system. In fact, according to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice new laboratory testing found that those innocuous-looking vinyl shower curtains can release over 100 chemicals into the air, some of which can damage the respiratory and reproductive systems, and even cause cancer. (And I thought mold and mildew were the culprits!) The good news is that safer PVC-free curtains are widely available. So, if it’s time to replace that grungy old shower curtain or liner but you’re worried about bringing toxic chemicals into your home, check out this FREE resource: Pass Up the Poison Plastic - The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home. In addition to providing some alternatives to PVC-based products, this comprehensive guide includes info about other plastics to avoid (such as polycarbonate and polystyrene) and tips for what you can do to shop smarter.


Five Easy Steps to Begin Going PVC-Free in Your Home


1. When remodeling your home, use PVC-free building materials.

2. Buy PVC-free baby products and toys for your children, grandchildren, and relatives.

3. Replace your PVC shower curtain.

4. Shop for PVC-free electronics.

5. Don’t buy products that are packaged in PVC.


Just remember: bad news comes in threes, don’t buy PVC.



From Pass Up the Poison Plastic - The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home


Posted by on May 13th, 2009 No Comments