SCHOOLS AND KINDERGARTENS
bubbles and bubbles® aims to reduce the ubiquitous presence of toxic chemicals in our natural environment and man-made environments such as babies' nurseries but also kindergartens and schools.
For much of the time when their bodies and intellect are developing, children are in school. It’s therefore critical to keep schools free from toxic chemicals linked to asthma and developmental damage. However, many schools are actually a threat to children’s health and ability to learn.
WHY IS IMPORTANT TO AVOID TOXIC PVC (vinyl) PLASTIC?
An emerging toxic plastic of concern, polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), is widespread in schools throughout the developed countries. Found in building materials and even back-to-school supplies, PVC and its hidden toxic chemical additives, such as phthalates, are harmful to children’s health and development.
Children are not “little adults” – their developing brains and bodies, their metabolism and behaviors make them uniquely vulnerable to harm from toxic chemicals released by PVC.
PVC. Phthalates. VOC’s. Dioxin. Etc. It’s serious business, especially considering that these chemicals are well-established carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that wreak havoc on growing children. We’re talking about developmental damage as well as damage to the liver, central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.
OUR WALL DECALS ARE COMPLETELY PVC-free and PHTHLATE FREE.
Chemicals released by the PVC lifecycle have been linked to chronic diseases on the rise such as cancer, asthma, learning and developmental disabilities, obesity, and even reproductive disorders. PVC uses and releases a toxic cocktail of chemicals including dioxin, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, mercury, lead and cadmium.
Phthalates, which are added to make PVC soft and flexible, are released from these PVC products and pose avoidable public health risks. In fact, over 90% of all phthalates are used in vinyl plastic. These phthalates have been linked to health problems on the rise in children. During the last years some countries have banned a number of phthalates in children’s toys, yet they are often found in PVC found in schools.
OUR INKS ARE LOW-VOC AND NICKEL FREE .
We use low VOC, nickel-free and award-winning eco-solvent inks. Our GREENGUARD Gold certified Roland Eco-Sol MAX® inks meet strict chemical emission limits. This certification given by the UL Environment association confirms that the inks we use meet the most safety requirements for its use in hospitals, nurseries or schools where sensitive people like kids or old people spend hours. The Eco-Sol MAX® meets the most strict normative related to the low-VOC emission (organic volatile compounds) for interior use contributing to a more clean, healthy and sustainable spaces.
REASONS SCHOOLS AND NURSERIES SHOULD GO PVC-FREE
- Children More At Risk from Toxic Chemicals Children are not “little adults”-their developing brains and bodies, their metabolism and behaviors make them uniquely vulnerable to harm from toxic chemicals such as those released by the PVC lifecycle.
The Production of PVC Involves Cancer-Causing Chemicals
Three chemicals are at the core of PVC production: chlorine gas is converted into ethylene dichloride (EDC), which is then converted into vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), which is then converted into PVC. Both VCM and EDC are extremely hazardous. Vinyl chloride, the key building block of PVC, causes a rare form of liver cancer, and damages the liver and central nervous system. Vinyl chloride is one of the few chemicals the U.S. EPA classifies as a known human carcinogen. EDC is a probable human carcinogen that also affects the central nervous system and damages the liver.
PVC Products Contain Phthalates & Other Toxic Chemicals.
PVC products often contain toxic additives such as phthalates, lead and cadmium.Many of these additives are not chemically bound to the plastic and can migrate out of the product posing potential hazards to consumers.
- PVC and Asthma. In recent years, a number of studies have found a correlation between phthalates emitted from PVC building products, like vinyl flooring, and asthma. Far too many children today have asthma, an average of one out of every 13 school-age children has asthma and this is a leading cause of school absenteeism.
- PVC and the brain Asthma isn’t the only illness on the rise in children. According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, “students with disabilities are a special “at risk” population for the harmful effects of exposures to environmental hazards at school.” A number of chemicals released by the PVC lifecycle have been linked with or have been shown to cause learning and developmental disabilities. These include dioxin, lead, and mercury. Preliminary research suggests phthalates may also be linked to learning and developmental disabilities.
- PVC in our Babies and Bodies. In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence has found that toxic chemicals released by the PVC lifecycle are trespassing into our bodies.
- PVC Flooring and unhealthy Cleaning Products. PVC flooring often requires the use of toxic cleaners to keep it durable and shiny. This wax and strip maintenance has long been a source of health concern due to the toxic VOCs such as formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) used in the maintenance products.
- PVC and Environmental Justice: PVC Plants Pollutes the Air and Groundwater of Surrounding Communities PVC chemical plants are often located in or near low-income neighborhoods and communities making the production of PVC a major environmental justice concern. PVC manufacturing facilities have poisoned workers and fence line neighbors, polluted the air, contaminated drinking water supplies, and even wipe entire neighborhoods off the map.
HOW TO FIND SAFE, COST-EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES TO BECOME A PVC-FREE SCHOOL.
PVC is found in many building materials including flooring, roofing, and carpeting, as well as in school and office supplies such as 3-ring binders, backpacks, lunchboxes, computers, and paperclips. Safer and cost-effective alternatives are already available for virtually every PVC product on the market.
Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom. Major businesses such as Google; Apple; HP; Dell; Target; Wal-Mart; Bed, Bath & Beyond; and IKEA are phasing out PVC.
Written by: Sara Ferreras. Architect and Sustainability expert. US Green Building Council LEED Green Associate.
Reference: Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) on PVC and Schools.