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Widespead Use of PVC Questioned




Chemicals called phthalates that are used to soften PVC in children's toys and other products.

The environmental issues associated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have been slowly gaining prominence over the past 15 years in the U.S. and abroad. In October, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning chemicals called phthalates that are used to soften PVC in children's toys and other products.
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The European Union has already taken aggressive steps to eliminate or reduce the amount of PVC and associated plasticizers that are used in products that come in direct contact with people and children.

Many products specified by landscape architects have traditionally been coated in PVC-based coatings. These include park benches, picnic tables, bike racks, trash-can receptacles, and other site amenities.

Uncertainty About Risks

As the search for PVC-free and plasticizer-free alternatives are sought, many manufacturers are switching to coatings based on copolymer polyethylene (CoPE), to ensure compliance with these new laws.

It is important to point out that scientific data on PVC and health is uncertain. In 2006, the European Union placed a ban on six types of phthalate softeners, including DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate), used in toys. In the U.S. most companies have voluntarily stopped manufacturing PVC toys with DEHP. But in 2003 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission denied a petition for a ban on PVC toys made with an alternative plasticizer, DINP (diisononyl phthalate).

40-year Standard

The coloring that goes on many products has been based on PVC chemistry for the past 40 years. PVC is a rigid product. To make it soft and flexible and use it as a coating, one has to add plasticizers, which are phthalates. Increasingly, phthalates are being found in humans. Scientists aren't sure why, however Europe has many bans on PVC. In California, Gov. Arnold Schwartzeneger recently signed a bill that banned many of the plasticizers that make PVC usable in these applications without actually banning the PVC. The law itself bans use on items intended for children.

There are several playground and site amenities manufacturers that are aware of the questions about PVC and phthalates and offer alternative products.

Sources: Innotek Powder Coatings, Wikipedia, Reuters


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December 7, 2019, 3:37 am PDT

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