Thursday, January 15, 2009

Avoid Toxics in the New Year

Mikaila Gawryn
Outreach Associate

You may wonder what exactly an outreach associate does. This Outreach Associate is involved in editing and expanding Earth Ministry publications. That basically means I spend a lot of time researching various topics, and then writing and compiling information about those topics for our Caring for All Creation booklet series. Most recently I have been researching toxics and environmental health and I would like to take this opportunity to share some of what I've learned about the toxins found in our homes. One of the most pervasive sources of dangerous toxins in our homes is vinyl. First, here is a quick explanation of the concerns associated with this product.

Vinyl, also known as PVC plastic, is used in many household products such as furniture, siding, shower curtains, and even carpets. Poisonous chemicals called dioxins are released during the production and use of vinyl and particularly in its incineration. The Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) reports: "Dioxins pose a serious public health threat. They are known to cause cancer in humans and are among the most powerful carcinogens known. They also cause a whole range of other health effects on the reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems." The good news is that there are many inexpensive and easy ways to reduce the vinyl products in your home and community, thereby reducing your exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Below are five easy ways to avoid using vinyl in your home and to reduce the introduction of dioxins in our environment.
1. Shower Curtain: Switch from a vinyl shower curtain to a cotton curtain with a nylon or polyester liner.

2. Window coverings: Next time you need new blinds or window covers, consider choosing a natural fiber or material, such as bamboo, cotton or wood.

3. Outdoor Furniture: Look for non-plastic outdoor furniture whenever possible. Many outdoor items can be purchased in metal or wood. The Washington Toxics Coalition also suggests ask sales associates for products that are made with recycled rather than virgin plastics.

4. Plastic Containers: Plastic containers with the number 3 inside the recycling symbol are made with PVC plastic and should be avoided. Make sure to look on your personal care products, such as shampoo, to see if your company uses PVC. If they do, write them an email or call asking them to give up the poison. Never microwave plastics or plastic wrap of any kind.

5. Take Action:
Join the Center for Health, Environment & Justice in their campaign against PVC plastics. Find out about the newest updates on PVC use and manufacturing. Tell a friend about how to avoid PVC plastics and watch the informative and fun video Sam Suds and the Case of PVC, The Poison Plastic.

Center for Health, Environment & Justice
Eliminating PVC in Your Home Washington Toxics Coalition

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