In February 2007, the Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) released its report on a PVC avoidance related materials credit for the LEED Green Building Rating system. The report concludes that “no single material shows up as the best across all the human health and environmental impact categories, nor as the worst” but that the “risk of dioxin emissions puts PVC consistently among the worst materials for human health impacts”.
Among the most serious dangers that PVC poses to humans and the environment is when PVC is burned. The widespread use of PVC in modern homes – for vinyl flooring, vinyl wallpapers, shower curtains, window frames, and electrical equipment including cable and wire insulation etc means that house and building fires will probably involve PVC products. If this happens dangerous dioxin will be generated.
Even during small house fires, considerable amounts of dioxin can form because PVC is present in interior furnishings and products such as floorings and wallpapers, and electrical equipment such as cables. The hydrochloric acid formed when PVC is burned, can lead to life-threatening lung damage and causes serious corrosion to buildings.
TCDD, the most lethal form of the dioxin family, is a known human carcinogen and hormone disrupter and is recognised as the most toxic synthetic compound ever produced.