Plasticisers say PVC health concerns unjustified
BRUSSELS - Makers of chemicals used to soften PVC plastic yesterday defended the safety of their products following concerns raised by the European Union about potential risks to human health and the environment from PVC.
The industrys comments came ahead of a public hearing scheduled for next Yesterday when the 72 billion euro ($60.97 billion) PVC industry will defend its products following an EU paper about the widely used plastic.
The European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediaries (ECPI) set out its case in the face of a consultation paper on PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, issued by the EU executive Commission in July.
The paper highlighted EU studies that show harmful chemicals can be released into the environment when waste PVC is incinerated or buried and show it is difficult to recycle.
Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen stressed the need to deal with the chemical additives used to stabilise and soften PVC which have been linked to health problems.
But the ECPI said yesterday that there was no cause for concern.
"Phthalate plasticisers have been used safely to soften PVC products for more than 40 years without a single known case of them having caused any ill-health effects in humans," the ECPI said.
"The section on phthalates (the most common types of softener) contains conclusions and allegations which are refuted by scientific data or for which there is no scientific basis," the ECPI said in a paper entitled "Setting the record straight".
The Commission may recommend new restrictions on PVC early next year if, after the consultation process, it finds the plastic poses risks to health or the environment.
The plasticiser industry was infuriated by reports in the Commissions paper that some phthalates could have adverse effects on human health, affecting the liver, kidney and testicles.
The EU has already imposed an emergency ban on PVC toys containing phthalates that are designed to be sucked by young children because of health fears. Rules which could further toughen the ban are currently going through the EU legislature.
But the ECPI said research which had shown health effects on rodents could not be extrapolated to apply to humans.
"The International Agency for Research on Cancer acknowledged the difference between rodents and humans," the ECPI said.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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