Can Raincoats Make You Sick?
With the unpredictable weather, it has become advisable to always bring your dependable umbrellas, raincoats and jackets.
While we cling and depend on our raingears to keep us dry and protect us from getting sick, have we actually checked if these things are safe to use?
In 2014, the EcoWaste Coalition, released a public warning against buying raincoats made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which contains the toxic metal lead.
This was a result from the tests conducted on products sold in discount shops in Manila and Pasay. The test revealed that the samples contained 574 parts per million (ppm) of lead which was above the allowable 100 ppm limit under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
What is PVC?
PVC, also known as vinyl, is one of the most widely used plastic materials because of its good insulation properties, impact strength and weatherproof attributes. From construction, packaging and automotive, to even household products, PVC is used almost everywhere.
However, research argues that PVC is said to be the most toxic plastic for both the environment and to humans.
Dangers of PVC
Found in PVCs are phthalates and heavy metals such as cadmium and lead which over time, can cause major complications in the endocrine and central nervous systems when inhaled, ingested or absorbed by the skin.
In 1974, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified vinyl chloride, used to create PVC, as a human carcinogen.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) also confirmed that breathing high levels of vinyl chloride, or about 10,000 parts per million (ppm), can make you feel dizzy or sleepy in just five minutes. You’d know if the product already contains this much chemical as it gives out a mild, sweet odor.
Furthermore, ATSDR warns that you can pass out if you inhale higher levels reaching to 25,000 ppm or beyond, or worse, die when exposed to extremely high levels of this toxin.
To be sure you are buying safe raingears and other plastic items, take note of these three simple tips:
- Look for the triangle icon. – At the bottom part of most plastic products, look for a triangle icon also known as the Resin Identification Code of the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI). If the number inside the icon is #3, then the item contains PVC.
- Do the basic sniff test. – If the item does not have an identification code, try sniffing the product. Items containing PVC may give off a strong plastic smell, or even a mild, sweet odor.
- Go PVC-free. As much as possible, opt to buy PVC-free plastics like plant-based resins or nylon polyester materials available in the market nowadays.
In case you find a suspicious product that may contain PVC or other harmful chemicals, you may directly report this by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the FDA CCRR Customer Service Hotline at (02) 857-1984.
SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, is your everyday partner in consumer watch. We make sure that what you and your community use are safe and of quality by performing softline tests on physical and chemical components including restricted chemical substances.
For more inquiries, you can contact us here or drop us a message on our official Facebook page @SGSPhilippines.
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.