Identifying PVC in your child’s environment
The good news for those of us living in the European Union is that some specific phthalates are prohibited in the use of certain PVC products. Three phthalates; DEHP – di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, DBP – dibutyl phthalate and BBP – benzyl butyl phthalate have all been banned in the manufacture of toys and child care products. Three others; DINP – diisononyl phthalate, DIDP – diisodecyl phthalate, and DNOP – di-n-octyl phthalate have been banned from use in toys and childcare products that are intended to be put in the mouth by children under the age of 3 years.
This is great news for our children in terms of phthalate exposure, but because these bans only concern products directly related to children’s toys and child care products, PVC in other household products still contain these dangerous phthalates and can affect our children. Phthalates are released into the air from PVC, they are then easily inhaled and are absorbed into household dust. Because young children – especially crawling babies – spend so much time on the ground they are likely to ingest this dust. Phthalates are also ingested every time a child mouths a PVC product which contains phthalates.
Among the more worrying materials for contaminate leaching is PVC (polyvinyl chloride), commonly referred to as vinyl. The chemicals leached during the PVC lifecycle include mercury, dioxins and phthalates. PVC is used in plenty of consumer products, including adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, solvents, automotive plastics, plastic clothing, personal-care products (such as soap, shampoo, deodorants, fragrances, hair spray, nail polish), as well as children’s toys and building materials.
Organisations including the U.S.-based National Toxicology Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health agree that vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) is one of 52 chemicals/compounds designated as a confirmed human carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical). As a result, advocacy groups, including Greenpeace, Children’s Health and Environmental Coalition (CHEC) and the U.S.-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) have called for a restriction or prohibition of PVC in consumer products including toys, building materials and packaging.
While research surrounding materials such as vinyl chloride monomer continues, advocacy groups have called on consumers to pay attention to what’s in the products they buy, and to let manufacturers and retailers know if they want more choice in terms of the composition of the products available to them.
While the number of products made of PVC can seem overwhelming, there are alternatives available to those who want them as the number of natural and non-chlorinated plastic substitutes in the market grows.
Labels and packaging
At present, labelling laws do not require manufacturers to list all toxins used in the creation of their product. However, there are easy ways to recognize a PVC-based toy or product: Look for the three-arrow “recycling” symbol with the number 3 or the initials PVC, which indicates polyvinyl chloride. If neither symbol is present, then call the manufacturer’s question/comment line (usually a free 0800 number) listed on the package or label.
Another clue to look for is the use of malleable or soft plastic. This can be found in toys, but also on clothing, bed linens and packaging. Read the labels and when in doubt, opt for a different product.
For those concerned about what’s in toys but unable to do extensive research on what they contain due to the holiday-buying rush, pick toy manufacturers who opt for non-PVC-based plastic. These brands include: Chicco, Evenflo, Gerber, International Playthings (including Primetime and Early Start), Lego, Sassy, Thomas and Tiny Love. According to Greenpeace’s Toy Report Card, Discovery Toys and Manhattan Baby also provide an extensive selection of PVC-free toys, but some products do still contain it. Concerned companies such as VUPbaby have developed a range of non-toxic toys, feeding and child’s ‘basics’ that contain no BPAs, PVC or Phthalates. Visit www.vupbaby.co.uk to see the full range.
Another alternative is to purchase toys made from organic cotton or certified sustainable wood. Companies that specialize in these fibres include: Brio, Lamaze, Melissa & Doug, Thomas and Woodkits, to name a few.
Alternatives to PVC
While avoiding all plastics is advised by some, it is not always practical. Thankfully, not all plastics are created equal.
Look for other plastics that are considered less harmful, such as #1 PETE, #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP. While these plastics also leach chemicals, studies suggest that their level of toxicity is not as great as with PVC products.
VUPbaby was created out of concern about the chemicals used in everyday products for babies and the scientific studies showing the impact these have on children’s health.
VUPbaby are dedicated to providing our customers with a range of carefully selected, toxic-free products from around the world. Our products are both practical and stylish. On our website you will find some ideas for gifts as well as a few Very Useful Products for mummy.
We are passionate about providing useful and practical information about our products – indicating those that are non-toxic to help you make an informed decision about your child’s health.
With us you can shop with confidence, safe in the knowledge that our baby products have been carefully vetted. We would love to hear your comments and suggestions, please visit our website; www.vupbaby.co.uk or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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