HCWH's co-founder Gary Cohen is a recipient of the prestigious Skoll Award. This video, chronicling the evolution of HCWH's work, premiered at the 2009 Skoll World Forum. enlarge video
PVC plastic (also known as vinyl) is the most commonly used plastic in medical devices such as IV bags and tubing, and it has been used in a wide variety of other applications in the health care setting, such as disposable gloves, curtains and flooring. Unfortunately, this type of plastic creates a number of environmental health risks.
There are two key problems associated with PVC:
- Dioxin, a known human carcinogen, can be formed during the manufacture of PVC, and during the incineration or burning of PVC products.
- DEHP, a phthalate used to soften PVC plastic that can leach from PVC medical devices, is linked to reproductive birth defects and other illnesses.
Several government agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration, the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate and a Health Canada expert panel have warned that certain patients — particularly sick infants — may be at risk of harm from phthalates leaching out of vinyl medical devices.
Fortunately, medical devices that do not contain vinyl plastic or phthalates are available for use — and many health care facilities are switching to these safer alternatives.
Health Care Without Harm is working with hospitals around the world to phase out PVC and phthalates from the health care sector.
- Alternatives to PVC and DEHP
- DEHP Exposures During the Medical Care of Infants (pdf)
- Dioxin, PVC and Health Care (pdf)
- Find out more about PVC-Free Building Materials (pdf)
- Health Care Institutions Moving Away from PVC/DEHP (pdf)
List compiled by Health Care Without Harm
- Neonatal Exposure to DEHP and Opportunities for Prevention (pdf)
- US FDA Public Health Notification on DEHP on the FDA website
- Weight of the Evidence on DEHP (pdf)
- Why Health Care is Moving Away from PVC (pdf)