Over at Parentables, Christine Lepisto revisits the issue of PVC and vinyl, in the careful and thorough fashion that only a chemist who can write can. She explains why it is considered toxic (because of the stabilizers added to it) and the problems with the plasticizers that make it soft enough to use, like phthalates. Then she raises an issue I had never thought of:
It is not so easy to just stop making and using PVC. Although there are plenty of suitable alternatives to substitute most uses of PVC, there is a bigger underlying problem. PVC provides an excellent use for chlorine, which is created when salt water is split during the production of sodium hydroxide -an essential chemical required in high volumes for many fields including pulp and paper, textiles, and soaps. In fact, greatly reducing demand for PVC will create a new problem: what to do with vast amounts of chlorine waste?
Also, we learn that there are moves in Europe to eliminate the toxic stabilizers and even develop a different kind of phthalate that won't be so likely to leach out or hurt humans. She actually suggests that there might be a "sustainable PVC", two words that I would never have imagined could be used together.
Of course, Christine writes from Europe, where they don't have The American Chemistry Council and the Vinyl Institute lobbying and have Congressmen promising to shut down the EPA. But one can always dream. Read more in Parentables: Should PVC be Banned in Schools and Daycare Facilities?