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PVC and Where it is Hiding

PVC, also known as, polyvinyl chloride, is one of the most widely used plastics in the world. It is the third most manufactured plastic, and one of the most toxic. It is softer and more flexible due to the addition of phthalates (another highly toxic chemical). Sadly, PVC is most often found in children's products. Things like toys, school binders, shoes, lunchboxes and backpacks are made with this toxic chemical. Somehow this generation is shocked at the rise of cancer in this nation, yet we still fail to thoroughly educate ourselves on the things we are continuously being exposed to that are causing cancer in the first place.

Phthalates are just ONE ingredient used in the making of PVC. They harm children's health and development by interfering with natural hormone functioning and have been linked to birth defects in baby boys, testicular cancer, liver problems, and early onset of puberty in girls – which is a  risk factor for later-life breast cancer. PVC contains other dangerous chemical additives including lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child's health. These toxic additives can leach out or evaporate into the air over time, posing unnecessary dangers to children. PVC has been proven to be a known carcinogen, hormone/endocrine disruptor, and have a list of known human and animal side effects from exposure.

It is one plastic that is nearly impossible to get rid of completely. Recycling will not break down PVC particles, and so, many opt to burn or bury to dispose of it. The problem with this, is that then it becomes dramatically harmful to the environment and the people living in the surrounding areas. When burned, even more toxic chemicals are created and poison the air we breathe, when buried, toxins leak from the plastic and enter water systems and soils in the area, spreading to communities, parks, and lakes.

GreenPeace, the World Health Organization, along with a variety of other "environmentally focused" groups, have repeatedly expressed their concern for the use and manufacturing of PVC. Unfortunately, PVC is also a product that we can assume is environmentally racist, being produced in mainly low income rural areas, exposing the "lower class" to detrimental toxins without their consent, knowledge, or in total disregards of their health as a concern.

Shoes, to me, are a huge concern, if they contain PVC. The popular brand MELISSA SHOES, is one in particular that not only uses PVC, but uses it throughout the entire shoe, including the sole. As we know in holistic health, the bottoms of the feet are an extremely sensitive area, one that has areas linked to the entire body's system, a main point of detoxification and absorption. The fact that popular shoes like jellies and flexible "comfortable" shoes marketed, in particular, at children, that contain PVC should make any human being absolutely infuriated.

Testing by several different government agencies worldwide have come to the conclusion children just playing with toys made from PVC, have the chemical actually in their bloodstreams. One shower curtain made of PVC has been proven to release as many as 108 TOXIC chemicals. These cause respiratory, liver, endocrine, thyroid, reproductive and central nervous system damage.

How might you be exposed to PVC? The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers the following list of potential sources:

  • You can be exposed to PVC by eating food or drinking water contaminated with it. At home, you can be exposed to PVC if you have PVC pipes, vinyl flooring or other consumer products made with PVC. You can be exposed if your home has vinyl siding or if you are building or renovating your home. Exposure may occur through food packaging and containers or “shrink wrapped" packages.

  • You can be exposed to PVC outdoors if you have a plastic swimming pool or plastic furniture. You can be exposed if you live or work on a farm that has an irrigation system containing PVC.

  • You can be exposed to PVC if you are a patient in a hospital and use medical devices made with PVC.

  • At work, you can be exposed to PVC if you work in a facility that manufactures PVC pipes and pipe fittings, tubing and other building and construction products. You can be exposed if you work in a facility that manufactures vinyl chloride, BPA or phthalates. You can be exposed if you are a plumber, home builder, construction worker, health care professional, farmer or worker in an auto manufacturing facility or repair shop.

While that lists sounds daunting, there are ways to protect yourself from the dangers of PVC .

On packaging, look for the #3 or the letters PVC, often found near the recycling symbol—and avoid these products. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice, which calls PVC the most environmentally harmful plastic, has created a list of common products—in categories such as apparel, kitchen items and office supplies—that are made from or packaged in PVC. The organization also created the following table of PVC-free alternatives to common materials.

THE GOOD THING THAT COMES FROM THIS POST IS THAT YOU ARE NOW AWARE AND THERE ARE MANY ALTERNATIVES. Choosing toys made from hemp, wood, bamboo and cotton, are always ideal for baby.

with love and light

and hopefully some serious awareness

-Kristina of the modern organic life

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