Statement: “The movie Blue Vinyl gives real life examples that prove that PVCs are bad and people have been harmed by working or living around PVC factories.”
The facts: Early versions of the movie highlighted the case of a woman who claimed to have angiosarcoma of the liver (ASL), contracted after working seven days in 1978 in a PVC pipe factory. Her lawsuit, brought in 2000, was dismissed by Delaware Superior Court in 2004 after the court found there to be no basis for the charges. It seems she did not have ASL, but rather a disease that’s only known medical link is to certain birth control pills. The woman has since been edited out of later versions of the movie.
Another misleading episode in the movie concerns a class-action lawsuit brought against Italian vinyl industry officials. The case was thrown out even before the movie aired in 2002, but that fact was buried in a brief statement during the movie’s credits.
The production of the vinyl monomer (VCM) and the PVC products that use it are controlled by strict regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1975. In 1977, a study of more than 15,000 workers in vinyl fabrication plants found no evidence of VCM-related effects in that group. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been unable to establish a link between living near a PVC plant and incidence of angiosarcoma. The actual risk to individuals living within five miles of a production facility is calculated at less than 0.1 case of cancer in the next 70 years. The risk of being struck by lightning on a clear day is higher (13.3 occurrences in 70 years).
In our next installment, we’ll look at this statement: “Phthalate plasticizers used to keep PVC membranes flexible are dangerous to human health.”