The YEARS Project, an Emmy-award-winning media organization committed to climate change storytelling, has released adocumentary shedding light on the detrimental impact of vinyl chloride, a chemical integral to producing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

Waste360 Staff, Staff

October 13, 2023

2 Min Read
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Photo by Getty Images

The YEARS Project, an Emmy-award-winning media organization committed to climate change advocacy, has released a documentary examining the detrimental impact of vinyl chloride, a chemical integral to producing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

The video focuses on the communities of East Palestine, Ohio, and their neighboring areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The documentary alleges that residents of East Palestine were exposed to far more dangerous chemicals than official reports had indicated.

"Vinyl chloride's threat to human health is undeniable, and this film drives home that undeniable reality," said Judith Enck of Beyond Plastics. "The federal government banned vinyl chloride in refrigerants, aerosol propellants, drugs, and some cosmetics in 1974. So, why is this toxic chemical still present in our homes, in PVC drinking-water pipes, and children's toys? The time has come for the Biden administration to exercise its authority in safeguarding public health."

The documentary urges the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban vinyl chloride. Beyond Plastics states that under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA possesses the legal authority to implement such a ban.

The film also highlights the nationwide risk, especially in communities near petrochemical production and transport.

When PVC burns, it generates toxic byproducts, including dioxins, known to be among the most hazardous substances. Firefighters' health is particularly at risk as PVC poses a significant threat to them. Dioxins can persist in the environment, entering the food chain through soil and water.

Banning vinyl chloride has been a topic of discussion for over 40 years. In the documentary, environmental groups stress a ban is needed.

 While companies have committed to eliminating vinyl chloride from their products, and the U.S. Plastics Pact has vowed to stop using PVC in plastic packaging by 2025. However, vinyl chloride is still prevalent in drinking water pipes, building materials, packaging, children's toys and numerous consumer products, according to Beyond Plastics.

 

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