'Phasing out PVC may save health and environment'

SHARJAH - Few people recognise that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as the most anti-environment plastic. It is possible to save health and the environment by replacing this poisonous substance, Yahya Ramadan Al Balushi, Head of the environmental Protection Section at the Sharjah Municipality, said.

By Tarek Fleihan

Published: Tue 15 Apr 2003, 12:34 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 9:57 PM

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Mr Al Balushi pointed out that substitutes for PVC include material such as clay, glass, ceramics, and chlorine-free plastics. "Recycling of PVC plastic is not a wise solution, because PVC items consist of many additives which makes the recycling process both impractical and expensive," he said. Talking about Dioxin, which is also one of the most toxic chemicals, Mr Al Balushi said that it could be present in beef, dairy product, milk, chicken, fish, and eggs.

"Dioxin particles that deposit in fruits and vegetables due to their exposure can be removed by washing. Iit is an odorless compound containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine. The term Dioxin refers to a family of chemicals, which differ from one another by the location and the number of chlorine atoms in the molecule. It is measured in part per trillion and has a tendency to dissolve in fat tissue where it can accumulate," he explained.

As for the PVC, Mr Al Balushi said that it was responsible for greater share of Dioxin production. "The PVC plastic, commonly known as vinyl , is a commonly used plastic. We find it every where; for example, in packaging, children's toys, automobile parts, building materials, hospital supplies, and so on," he noted.

"An advantage of PVC is that it is very handy and relatively inexpensive. It contaminates human body and the environment through its lifecycle during its production accompanied by extreme pollution, which includes toxic chemicals exposure and crisis of ultimate disposal," Mr Al Balushi pointed out.

Regulatory bodies in some countries are chalking out strategies to minimise PVC products in hospital supplies to reduce Dioxin emission during hospital wastes incineration, Mr Al Balushi said.

"Specialists stated that lead damages the central nervous system and decreases intelligence, and cadmium which is more toxic than lead causes kidney failure and cancer," he revealed, stressing that plasticisers which are used as a softener are very harmful and cause serious illness like cancer. Some toy manufacturing companies worldwide are trying to implement guidelines issued by regulatory authorities to minimise and phase out vinyl toys from the market.

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