Phthalates were banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2008 for products intended for children under the age of three. But don't be lulled into a false sense of security when “phthalate-free PVC” is proudly displayed on that new baby toy you're thinking about buying.
Phthalate-free Vinyl (PVC, #3) is Safe, Right?
While it's a step in the right direction, we're still left to worry about with many other harmful chemicals common to PVC. Even phthalate-free PVC still isn’t a safe plastic because of the other harmful chemicals often used during production. The Center for Health Environment and Justice names the following possible concerns with PVC:
- May contain dioxin (a known carcinogen)
- May contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
- May contain organotins
- May contain lead, cadmium and other metals
- Heat and humidity can increase the release of these chemicals
Tips for Minimizing Your Exposure to PVC
- PVC is commonly found in: baby bibs, teethers, bath toys, bath seats/gear, cling food wrap, pet toys, 99% of all inflatable toys, nap mats and shower curtains – just to name a few.
- If you have vinyl flooring in your home, damp mopping it on a regular basis removes phthalates accumulated in the dust on the floor. Direct sunlight, moisture and heat on vinyl tiles can cause it to release phthalates more quickly. And of course, choose non-vinyl options when replacing flooring.
- Watch for “vinyl” in product descriptions, as it is commonly used as a nickname for PVC. But keep in mind that the term “vinyl” may also be used to describe ethylene vinyl Acetate (EVA) and polyethylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA). Both of these plastics are considered to be safer alternative to PVC and are acceptable choices *On a side note: food containers are not typically made with PVC (and thus no phthalates), so don't focus your effort in this area (see our Guide).
- Make simple changes to your food storage containers by choosing glass, stainless steel or product confirmed free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates (see our Guide)
- Choose mattresses and mattress covers made with PVC-free materials (see our Guide and Review).
- Skip PVC food wrap often found on commercially prepared foods, such as meat and cheese blocks (see our Tips)
- Educate yourself about what plastics are what and then begin contacting manufacturers to confirm the info for yourself.
- Check CHEJ’s website for an extensive list of companies who have committed not to use PVC in their products.
- And last but NOT least >> encourage the makers of your favorite brands to use PVC alternatives when possible!