PVC Hazardous Production
- PVC manufacture begins when chlorine gas is produced by the energy-intensive electrolysis of brine, a process in which dioxin is formed.
- Next, chlorine is combined with ethylene to produce ethylene dichloride (EDC). In this process, large quantities of dioxin are formed. Some portion of these dioxins are released in air emissions and wastewater discharges. Samples taken downstream from EDC manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe indicate significant contamination of sediment and the foodchain in the vicinity of these plants. The largest quantities of dioxin are directed into the wastes or tars that result from EDC synthesis. These chlorine-rich wastes are typically incinerated, producing and releasing dioxins into the environment.
- EDC is then converted into vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), which is polymerized, formulated, and formed into a final PVC-containing product. Vinyl chloride is classified as a human carcinogen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a host of other international agencies. It has a range of other health affects such as liver and kidney damage, and reproductive damage.