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

Posts Tagged ‘vinyl’

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

Plastics on My Brain

At work, we recently developed some beautiful materials educating people about various toxins hiding in everyday items. The card about plastic keeps me up at night.

Plastics are labeled with numbers surrounded by triangles (stamped underneath the item).  For years, I thought it had to do with recycling. Turns out, these numbers signify my exposure to toxins: 09-plastic-spectrum-image1

Some yucky plastic facts:

  • #7 is the plastic we highlighted in a recent post. (Bisphenol A-known as BPA.) I won't repeat the gory details here, but will say that all Nalgene has left the building at my house.
  • #3 is PVC (vinyl).  This is lovingly referred to as "the poison plastic" because it contains mercury (linked to cancer), dioxin (carcinogen linked to birth defects, sperm damage and asthma) and phthalates (increased estrogen).

After a thorough inspection of my house, I found #7 = baby bottles, sippy cups and the 5 gallon water cooler commonly found in offices. #3 was my shower curtain, some of my son's toys, plastic food wrap (!!!) and some food storage containers. It was the take-out soup container for my favorite restaurant!

Take a look around your house.  Choose safer plastics like #1, #2, #4 or #5.

There are some great resources available for smarter choices around food and plastics, a plastic container buying guide, and a little bedside reading about the harmful effects of plastics on kids and your reproductive health that will keep you up at night.

Posted by on April 28th, 2009 2 Comments