PVC havoc

Published: Sunday 31 January 1999

substances have been found in the air downwind from Toronto, Canada's capital. These were most likely released by the dumping of polyvinyl chloride ( pvc ), say environmental organisations Greenpeace, Toronto Environmental Alliance and Jack Jayton, chairperson of Toronto's Environmental Task Force. They are urging municipalities across Canada to investigate and take action after worrying levels of carcinogenic vinyl chloride were reported in a report published by the Canadian ministry of environment.

Studies have shown that pvc provides between one-half and two-thirds of the chlorine present in municipal waste, making it the most potent source of chlorine-containing gases emitted by the landfills. Vinyl chloride originates from pvc as it is the basic chemical used in plastics.

A study by the New York state department of health reported that women living near municipal landfills, where gas is escaping, face a much greater risk of facing leukaemia. A 1995 study of families living near Montreal's Miron Quarry landfill also found a 20 per cent increase in likelihood of low birth weight among the new born babies.

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