Arnika has launched a new project in Ústí nad Labem region, which aims to reduce consumption and usage of PVC products. Arnika is going to concentrate mainly on hospitals and facilities taking care of children. The child´s body is the most vulnerable and sensitive to toxins released from PVC and in long run they have a negative impact on the number of sperms and on liver and kidneys functioning. „Such chemicals are represented for example by phthalates (1) use of which in production of toys and other products for children was banned for the named reasons,“ said Miroslava Jopková, head of Arnika´s campaign “Do Not Play with PVC“.
Despite the ban, Jopková says, phthalates are still frequently present in toys, other products for children and packages. This was proved by recent checking and tests made by Arnika, the Consumers Defense Association, Czech Trade Inspection and other organizations as well as the ministry of health which, on the basis of the tests and proofs, banned a number of products (2). „Bans and limits are often broken so that the only guarantee to avoid contact with hazardous chemicals is not to use PVC,“ said Jopková.
Arnika has already found first allies among regional hospitals which will cooperate in terms of substitution of PVC medical device. One of them is hospital Nemocnice sv. Alžběty in Louny town. Senior nursing officer Růžena Lindnerová said: „Now we are working together with Arnika on PVC audit of medical devices. It is the first step necessary for its systematic substitution with safer alternatives. By doing this we want to reduce risks connected with usage of device containing harmful phthalates. It will also mean reduction of quantity of hazardous chemicals´ emissions to environment within removal of the medical devices made of PVC.“ Cooperation with the hospital in Louny and existence of Arnika´s branch in Děčín – these were the reasons why Arnika decided to start the project exactly in the region around Ústí nad Labem (north of the Czech Republic), but it will soon expand to the southern part of the country (Jižní Čechy). Arnika is also going to address local authorities - municipalities and townhalls with the appeal to substitute PVC by environmentally friendly materials.
Beside the hospitals and local authorities, Arnika also plans involvement with people living in Ústi region. „Most people usually do not realize risk represented by PVC and connected with everything what can be made of this material, and where the use of PVC means the highest risk for their health. That is why we will run informative stalls, exhibitions and organize lectures in the region Ústí. Active citizens can become involved in the project if they for instance help us to fill in database of safer alternatives to usual PVC products, or sign the petition „For Substitution of PVC“ (3), Jopková said.
These activities were supported by NROS (Foundation for Development of Civic Society) by the amountn of 49,700 Euro. The project is supported by a grant from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway within financial mechanism EEC and Norwegian financial mechanism. This action was also co-financed by a grant provided by the Czech Ministry of Environment and the New World Foundation.
(1) Phthalates or esters of phthalate acid represent a group of cca 40 chemicals. They are used as additives in PVC and as softeners but are also used in cosmetics, in agriculture as insecticides or as adhesives. Use of the most hazardous kinds of phthalates was limited in production of toys and other children products and in cosmetics because of negative health effects. These six most hazardous phthalates are: di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), di-iso-decyl phthalate (DIDP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Other information about phthalates is on: http://bezjedu.arnika.org/chemicka-latka.shtml?x=1910056. The main risk related to them is their negative impact on hormonal and reproductive systems as well as on the liver, kidneys, lungs and on blood condensability.
(2) Toys and other products for children, nonconforming in terms of content of toxic chemicals, discovered by Arnika, the Consumers Defence Association, Czech Trade Inspection and Test Mf Dnes in last 6 months. A chronological review of press releases on hazardous toys and other children products, relating to the content of toxic phtalates:
(3) Petition „For PVC Substitution“ requires among other limiting the use of PVC in toys and children products, food packaging and in healthcare. Text of the petition (in Czech) is available on http://pvc.arnika.org/petice.