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Scientist Warns vs. Use of Plastics that Pose Health Risks to Kids

By Jonathan Mayuga

A British scientist has warned Filipino consumers against a poison in consumer and health care products, particularly in toys, school supplies, household materials and medical devices that pose health risks, especially to children.

Ruth Stringer, a British national who has done studies on the hazards of manufacturing, consuming and disposing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) told participants of a forum, dubbed "Usapang Plastik," to exercise precaution in buying products made of PVC for their own safety.

The forum, organized by the waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition's Task Force on Plastics, discussed the potential health and environmental risk of plastics.

During the forum, it was revealed that PVC or plastic no. 3, is commonly used in food packaging, plastic wrap, toiletries and cosmetics containers, detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, beach balls, inflatable swimming pools, shower curtains, medical devices, toys, pacifiers and teething rings, which could pose great risk to public health and the environment, especially when they are being used and disposed of improperly.

The EcoWaste Coalition has, on several occasions drew public attention on the health and environmental hazards of PVC, especially when it is burned - a polluting process that releases cancer-causing dioxins, one of the most toxic man-made chemicals ever produced.

During the last three years, the Coalition has spoken against the use of improvised PVC cannons in bloody New Year revelry.

"PVC is one of the most widely used plastics, but environmentalists have been concerned with the pollution caused by its manufacturing and disposal for over 20 years now," said Stringer, International Science and Policy Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm.

She added that it is also a poor plastic, hard and brittle, so before it can be made into anything useful, it needs additives. Using lots of additives makes PVC a problem for consumers.

Chemical additives known plasticizers are added to soften PVC. Phthalates (pronounced tha-lates), a widely used toxic plasticizer, are developmental and reproductive toxins capable of causing birth defects as shown in animal studies.

The toxicity of some of the plasticisers, Stringer pointed out, has already spurred some foreign governments to act.

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