The next plastic we will know in this series is PVC, an abbreviation for PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride.
PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is commonly known as vinyl. It is a soft flexible plastic. Used in almost everything around us. It can be used in many different ways for diverse purposes. It is used to make garden hoses, window and bed frames, shower curtains, plastic pipes, children’s toys, food wrapping, electric wire insulation, and even children’s teething rings. PVC is not damaged easily due to sunlight, rain, and weather changes. Its durability is another reason for its popularity. Recycling code 3 is to recognize PVC plastic.
Many PVC producing companies claim that PVC is safe to use. However, scientists and environmentalists say that, PVC is very damaging for the environment and human health, throughout its lifecycle- from production to disposal.
PVC leaches put many harmful chemicals in the environment. It contains BPA (bisphenol A), which may enter our food, when microwaved is plastic containers or when the plastic containers are washed in dishwashers. According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration), BPA is safe in small amounts, although studies have shown that it causes rise in blood pressure. The chlorine atom in PVC molecule forms compounds called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which damage the ozone layer. Phthalates in PVC are responsible for making it soft, but they cause damage to the endocrine system and sterility in men.
PVC leaches out the metal lead with time, this lead mixes with our water from PVC pipelines. Lead is very harmful to the brain and nervous system and there is no permissible amount of lead that may enter our system. Antimony, which damages the liver, leaches out from PVC as well. People living around factories producing PVC fall ill excessively and may fall victims to cancer.
Sadly, less than 1% gets recycled. It is difficult to recycle PVC products because of so many different chemicals added to them. However, they can be repurposed.
The good news is that, a safe alternative is available for almost all PVC products.
Here is a helpful list of safe alternatives to some commonly used PVC products-
PVC toys: Wool stuffed toys
Food wrap: Reusable beeswax wrap
Garden hose: Drinking water safe hose or rubber hose
Children’s teething ring: Teething toys made of rubber
Hello readers, I am Saee Gunjal, author of this Wlog. I am studying Environmental Engineering from 'The University of Toledo' ( Toledo, Ohio) and love to dance. I am passionate about environmental issues and waste management. I plan to work with the same after I graduate. Stay tuned for my next wlog on 'LDPE'