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How to be poison-free going back to school


Parents, it is time to start stocking up on the latest school supplies, and many children's supplies, such as lunchboxes, backpacks and binders, are often made out of PVC (#3 plastic).

PVC contains chemicals that are dangerous to human health. Of all the plastics, PVC plastic or vinyl is the most environmentally-damaging, and its production is increasing worldwide; despite the fact that safer, feasible alternatives exist for almost all PVC products.

PVC is unique because it contains harmful chemicals including phthalates and organotins and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.

Phthalates are estrogen mimickers and are used to make PVC soft and pliable. These chemicals contaminate the air and water of communities surrounding the manufacturing plants.

Male children in particular are at risk from even small exposures to these chemicals. That is why it is extremely important to purchase PVC-free school supplies.

Watch Sam Sud's Youtube video with your children to learn more about this issue. ( v=qpmE_b9 0XTU.)

The production of PVC powder involves the transport of dangerous explosive materials such as vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and the creation of toxic waste, notably ethylene dichloride (EDC) tars.

Tar wastes contain huge quantities of dioxins that are incinerated or dumped, spreading dioxins into the wider environment.

Previously these tar wastes were

burned on ocean incineration vessels until a worldwide ban was imposed in 1991 due to their toxic emissions and threat to the marine ecosystem.

These wastes are now burned in land incinerators or dumped into deep wells. PVC is not accepted in the Simcoe County recycling program.

PVC recycling is neither technically nor financially feasible. Currently, less than one per cent of PVC is materially recycled. Post-consumer products or PVC waste products cannot be recycled into the same quality because PVC needs virgin PVC to make a product of similar quality.

PVC's contribute to developmental disorders and damage of the liver, central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems. Recent studies have linked PVC flooring in the home to increased rates of autism and asthma in children.

More than 90 per cent of all phthalates are used in PVC products such as school supplies and children's toys. This year, make an effort to purchase products free of plastic in general and know that you are making a good choice!

The following is a list of things to look for when shopping for back to school items:

* Look for non-plastic products whenever available, and avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs--they may also contain lead.

* Avoid "recycling" symbol with the number 3 or the initials PVC.

* Use cardboard, fabric-covered, or polypropylene binders. Most 3-ring binders are made of PVC.

* Look for fabrics and other safe materials rather than plastics.

* Use cloth lunch bags or metal lunchboxes.

* Choose plain metal paperclips instead of plastic coated clips.

* Ask the manager of your grocery store to stock PVC-free food wrap for meats and cheeses in the deli.

* Use glass or stainless steel containers for food and drink and never microwave with plastics. Heating plastic increases the chances of chemical additives such as bisphenol A, phthalates or other additives that leach into food and beverages.

If you have any questions about the environment, please, feel free to e-mail the Environment Network @

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