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Monday, August 17, 2009

PVC Goes Back to School

The back to school buzz is in the air. Parents are rushing off to gather up supplies, clothes, and gear for their kids as September peeks just around the corner. But before you head off to stock up for your kids, take a moment to review a new report from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice entitled Back-to-School Guide for PVC-Free School Supplies.

Yup. PVC is lurking in our kids' school supplies! Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a toxic plastic, is neither healthy nor green. Commonly referred to as "vinyl" PVCs are present in many household products, children's toys, and building materials. And school supplies. What's wrong with PVC? According to Greenpeace, PVC "is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics." PVC production accounts for "nearly 40 percent of all chlorine used in the United States" and is a building block for CFCs, which are destroying the Earth's ozone layer. Dioxins are released in the production of chlorine-based chemicals and have been detected in unsafe levels in the bloodstreams of humans and animal life and have been implicated in rising infertility, birth defects and developmental problems among wildlife. According to the CHEJ report, PVCs contain chemical additives including phthalates and lead, among others.

Reducing our children's exposure to toxins and PVCs is important for their health, as is refusing to support the industry creating these environmental pollutants. So what do you need to look for? PVC products may be labeled "vinyl" - as in colorful 3-ring binders or zip-up pencil cases. You may also find the number "3" or the letter "V" or "PVC" under the recycling logo, indicating that the item was made from PVCs. Likely suspects: notebooks with spiral binders covered in plastic, backpacks with shiny plastic designs, colored plastic-covered paper clips, plastic rainwear, umbrellas, and boots, vinyl lunch boxes and plastic water bottles.

To download a copy of the CHEJ report, which also provides suggestions for manufacturers of PVC-free alternatives, just click here! Start the school year off with a commitment to a healthier and greener future!

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