Children will no longer breathe in phtalates from floor covering. Prague University Hospital Motol substitutes PVC floors with harmless rubber

24.5.2007 - Prague

Patients in Children´s University Hospital Motol will no longer be exposed to toxic phtalates leaking from PVC. Hospital management decided to replace floors from this harmful plastic material by a floor covering made of harmless rubber „Blue Angel“ (2) for ecologically friendly products. The floor was replaced in a frame of reconstruction in a couple of hospital departments (1).

Phtalates (3) are used as PVC softeners but they are not bound in the plastic by a fixed chemical fixation so that they do not leak from it. They can penetrate the human organism by being breathed in or by contact with the skin. The most hazardous kinds of phtalates are (2-ethylhexyl) phtalate (DEHP) and benzyl-butyl-phtalate (BBP) – usual compounds of floor coverings made of PVC. Their negative health effects have earlier lead to approval of laws reducing their use in production of toys and other products for children. Some studies (4) see breathing in chemicals from PVC as one of causes of appearance or deterioration of respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies.
„Children´s organism is especially sensitive to exposure of phtalates and other toxic substances. That is why we were pleased that Motol Hospital decided on replacing PVC floors by harmless rubber,“ said Ing. Miroslava Jopková, leader of Arnika´s campaign „Don´t play with PVC“.

PVC floors are now being replaced by another hospital Na Homolce (5) which is substituting also medical devices made of PVC with safer alternatives. „We consider the substitution of PVC floor covering with ecologically less problematic alternatives as important step of hospitals in reducing risk of exposing patients to harmful chemicals in buildings where people shall be cured instead of exposed to risks,“ said Karolína Růžičková from international network Health Care Without Harm.(1) Rubber floors were installed in following departments of Motol Hospital: Nurseling Pediatrics, Nurseling Surgery, Surgery – Unit of Intensive and Resuscitation Care, Neonatological Cardiac Surgery, Neural Surgery, Hemato-oncology, Orthopedics, Nurseling ORL.

(2) It is floor covering „NORA“. Brand “Blue Angel” or “Blauer Engel” is worldwide renowned brand of ecologically friendly products. It was approved in 1997 by German minister of environment, nature protection and nuclear security. More information is on

(3) 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), di(2-ethylhexyl) phtalate (DEHP). Other information about phtalates is on:

(4) Bornehag, CG., Sundell, J., Weschler, C.J., Sigsgaard, T., Lundgren, B., Hasselgren, M., Hägerhed-Engman, L. Allergic symptoms and asthma among children are associated with phthalates in dust from their homes: a nested case-control study. 2004. Environmental Health Perspective.

Anneli Tuomainen, Harri Stark, Markku Seuri, Maija-Riitta Hirvonen, Markku Linnainmaa, Anne Sieppi, and Hannu Tukiainen. Experimental PVC Material Challenge in Subjects with Occupational PVC Exposure. 2006.

Jaakkola JJ, Øie L, Nafstad P, Botten G, Samuelson SO, Magnus P. Interior surface materials in the home and the development of bronchial obstruction in young children in Oslo, Norway. Am J Public Health. 1999;89:188–192.

(5) University Hospital Na Homolce has finished replacement of PVC Floor in following departments: magnetic resonance, intensive care unit, neural surgery, and vascular.


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