Don´t play with PVC, warns Arnika

19.4.2007 - Prague

Ecological association Arnika started today its new prior campaign „Don´t play with PVC!“. The campaign also includes the petition „For PVC substitution” in products for children, in healthcare and food packages. All the time we see repeating cases when over limit concentrations of toxic phtalates (1) are discovered in products used by children. Recent analysis found phtalates in toys despite their ban, and it persuaded us about fact that the only possibility how to avoid exposure to toxic substances releasing PVC is simply not using this chemical in products for children such as toys and others. And this is one of the goals of the campaign,“ said leader of the new campaign, Ing. Miroslava Jopková. Though the campaign is entitled „Don´t play with PVC!“, it does not concern only toys. „Our goal is to reduce usage of polyvinylchloride (PVC) in all cases which have safer alternative (2). Other risky things which directly threaten people by toxic chemicals are food packages and medical devices from which PVC can leak during their use. Such products do not contain only phtalates but also alkylfenols and other chemicals,“ Jopková added.

One of campaign´s warrants, doctor Karel Ševela, spent many years working on the problem of phtalates in medical devices. „Undesired exposure to phtalates has been proved for several years by number of research centers,“ he said. „As for undesired effects, it can for instance hasten the progress of vascular atherosclerosis, and damage the liver, kidneys and reproductive system. Phtalates also increase probability of occurrence of cancer, “ he added. However usage of different softener would not solve the problem, according to Ševela who explained: „There would still remain problem of environmental pollution. Medical material is usually burned because of hygienic demands. But incineration of PVC causes leakage of highly toxic dioxins (3) to the air and their accumulation in wastes from incinerators.“

Another warrant of the campaign, Alžběta Jarošová, pointed on the risk connected with PVC as a material for food packaging. „PVC packages can cause food contamination. With respect to a food chain, occurrence of phtalates in animal feed for livestock and its packages must be solved as well as its health risks for consumers of food of animal origin,“ she said.

Petition „For PVC substitution“ (4) can be signed as of today. It is going to be important part of the campaign and is available on new website about the campaign http://pvc.arnika.org. Beside reduction of PVC content in toys and other products for children, in food packages and medical devices the petition also requires clear labelling on products made of PVC. „Such labelling can help consumers to choose safer alternative. Producers often do not write down clearly which material they have used. Labelling of food packages is the only possibility how to distinguish if the food is packed in PVC (5),“ Jopková said.

Arnika says the problem with PVC use does not relate only to the time it is used. The risks are connected also with its production and emissions during the production and liquidation either on landfills or in waste incinerators. „These problems were listed in 2000 in a study ordered by the European Commission (6). Due to wide use of PVC in daily life, phtalates are practically everywhere – in a dust in our homes, in rainfalls and rivers. This has been also proved by two Czech studies published in last six months (7),“ said Arnika´s chairman Jindřich Petrlík. (1) Phtalates or esters of phtalate acid represent group of cca 40 chemicals. They are used as additives in PVC as softeners but are also used in cosmetics, in agriculture as insecticides or as adhesives. Use of the most hazardous kinds was limited in production of toys and other children products or in cosmetics because of negative health effects. These six most hazardous phtalates are: di-isononyl phtalate (DINP), di-n-octyl phtalate (DNOP), di-iso-decyl phtalate (DIDP), butyl benzyl phtalate (BBP), dibutyl phtalate (DBP), and di(2-ethylhexyl) phtalate (DEHP). Other information about phtalates is on: http://bezjedu.arnika.org/chemicka-latka.shtml?x=1910056.

(2) List of alternatives of PVC usage in healthcare isn available on the campaign webpages:

1) products for children: http://pvc.arnika.org/alternativy_deti.shtml
2) medical devices: http://pvc.arnika.org/alternativy_zdravotnictvi.shtml

(3) Dioxins are highly toxic substances which are hazardous even in its trace concentrations. They accumulate in animal fat tissues. Their concentrations in environment are increased also by small dust particles. Longterm exposure to dioxins and PCBs causes damage to the immune and nervous system, changes of endocrine system (mainly of thyroid gland) and reproductive functions. Certain studies also proved their impact on decrease of intelligence, ability of concentration and on behavior (child hyperactivity). These chemicals accumulate in human body for a long time (Source: web pages of the Czech national Institute of Public Health - www.chpr.szu.cz - Dioxiny v potravinách”/Dioxins in food).For more information visit: http://www.dioxin.cz/.

(4) People can sign the petition on the Day of Earth at Arnikaś information stalls – In Prague and towns: Jihlava, České Budějovice, Ostrava and Děčín.

(5) Formula of PVC is 3 or PVC or vinyl. More information about plast marking is on http://pvc.arnika.org/obaly.shtml.

(6) Study entitled „Green book on PVC“ is available on http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pvc/index.htm. Emissions of toxics to environment associated with PVC production were observed in Sweden. A brief summary on theri findings is on http://pvc.arnika.org/clanky.shtml?x=159721.

(7) Study: Watson 2006: Pozor! Nebezpečný prach! Praha, červenec 2006 („Watch out! Dangerous dust!“ Prague, July 2006), published by Arnika. The study includes information on concentrations of phtalates, PBDEs and alkylfenols found in Czech office rooms and in rainfalls. You can download it in PDF on http://bezjedu.arnika.org/downloads/prach.pdf.

J. Sochůrek, J. Hajšlová, V. Kocourek 2007: Kvalitativní analýza enviromentálních kontaminantů technikou GC x GC/TOF-MS. („Qualitative analysis of environmental contaminants by GC x GC/TOF-MS technology. Available only on internet. The study contains interesting data on pollution of rivers by phtalates. You can download it in PDF on http://bezjedu.arnika.org/downloads/VSCHT_reky.pdf.


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