PVC harms! Today Arnika activists addressed customers with this warning in front of the entrance to the Carrefour store in Prague part called Angel, to make them aware of the goods made of PVC and specially of the food, wrapped in this plastic. The activists handed out to the shoppers reference material, in which they warned of the danger resulting from usage of PVC food packaging to environment and human health. “PVC is inappropriate on the Christmas table,” said RNDr. Jindřich Petrlík, the head of the Arnika - Toxic and Waste Programme.“There is also the address of our web page in the leaflet (http://pvc.arnika.org), where we published a list of food packed in PVC. The list is based on survey we have made this year in a few different stores. We found out, that in opposite to previous years the number of producers using the PVC food packaging has gone up. This is a consequence of repealing Abolition PVC Covers law, a decision made by Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic in 2000 year (1). That is why we decided to call on people to boycott goods wrapped in PVC. One of them is for example well-known Vodňany Chicken,” said Mgr. Hana Kuncová, who is responsible for the campaign aimed against use of PVC in Arnika Association.
The leaflets given out to the shoppers in front of the Carrefour store contained not only a list of food wrapped in PVC available in this store, but also specification of negative characteristics of this plastic material including its impact to the human health and environment. There is explained in the leaflet, that people can recognize the PVC covers by the figure three in a triangular recycling sign which uses to be on a bottom of plastic goods or on a paper docket next to a product name.
“Production and disposal of PVC leads to dioxins (2), hexachlorobenzene (3) and in a limited amount also to polychlorinated biphenyls (4) releases. That is why we want to substitute this plastic material everywhere, where it is possible,” explained Petrlík.
(1) History of prohibition PVC usage for covers: the original law 18, §4 No. 125/from 1997 year, Statutes on Waste: “Since of January 1, 2001 it has been forbidden to produce and import packaging made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as well as products in such covers.” The change proposed and approved by Members of Parliament of the Czech Republic in year 2000: “Since of January 1, 2008 it is forbidden to produce and import packaging made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as well as products in such covers.” Consequently the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic completely abolished usage of PVC for the product packaging by the amendment implemented by law on chemical compounds finally.
(2) Dioxins (PCDD/Fs) are highly toxic agents dangerous even in trace amounts. They accumulate in animal fatty tissues. Their concentration in the environment is raised by small dust particles. Long-life action effect of dioxins and PCBs leads to damage of the immune and nervous systems, also to the changes of endocrine system (especially of the thyroid) and of reproductive functions. Some studies have proven their impact to lowering of intelligence, lowering of concentration ability and impact to behaviour (hyperactivity in childhood). They are chemicals, which are being cumulated for a long term inside of the body. (Source: web pages of the National Health Institute – www.chpr.szu.cz - “Dioxiny v potravinách/ Dioxins in the food”)
(3) Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) has been originally produced as a pesticide or for technical utilization. Till today it is produced as an intermediate product in Spolchemie factory, Ústí nad Labem town. Similar to dioxins or PCB, it arises like unintended side product during combustion of chlorinated substances. Its impact to the human health is also comparable to PCBs and dioxins – it stigmatises immune and endocrine system.
(4) (4) Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been produced as chemicals for industrial use since of 1930. They are very stable organochlorine chemicals. They are water-insoluble, but fat-soluble. They have not been used only in transformer and capacitor oils, in colours, and fluxes, but also in tracing papers, inks and even in lipsticks. The PCB production in the former Czechoslovakia (in Chemka Strážské in Slovakia) was forbidden after 1984, when its negative impact to human health has been found. PCB is still present in transformers and capacitors and still is the most problematic material in waste. Even in a very low concentration it damages human hormonal and immunity system. Those people, who have frequently got in contact with a high percentage of PCB later suffered from chloracne, liver malfunction, had breathing obstacles and a number of other health problems.