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  Plastics like PVC (vinyl) out-gas chemicals including chlorine and contain plasticizers called phthalates. Remember when the windshields in new cars used to get foggy? This was from the new vinyl (PVC) in the trim, paneling and seats. NASA banned the use of vinyl because the chemicals in it fogged the optical equipment.

Normal plastics are made mostly from petrol-chemicals whereas vinyl may be containing as much as 50% plasticizers, heavy metals, flame retardants and fillers18.  Ever notice how stiff the extension cord used to trim your bushes is if itís left out in the cold. PVC would be hard and brittle if plasticizers werenít added. The heavy metals in plasticizers include lead and cadmium.

Phthalates have been implicated in causing asthma. They have also been known to cause kidney and liver problems, nervous system disorders and cancer.  Plasticizers and heavy metals from PVC are found in house dust. In 1996, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission attempted to negotiate a warning label for PVC mini-blinds due to lead dust that was found in locations where blinds were installed. Children can ingest lead and cadmium from chewing or handling backpacks, toys, raincoats, and video game components made of PVC.

If you have something new in your home thatís plastic, sniff it. If it smells itís emitting chemicals. Vinyl is usually the worst culprit.

Common products inside the home that are PVC are vinyl flooring in kitchen and bathrooms, mini-blinds, wall paper, imitation leather, water beds, window frames, vinyl table cloths and shower curtains. This is a partial list. If itís plastic, smell it.

Safe Solutions

All plastics arenít bad but itís generally a good idea to limit the amount of plastic in the home and to avoid PVC (vinyl).

Choose furniture, tables and book shelves made of wood instead of plastic. The next time you need to replace the kitchen or bathroom flooring, consider putting in tile. Become aware of just how many plastic toys your children have and make an effort to balance this with ones made of other materials.
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Revised: July 05, 2017.

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