I have heard it referred to as PVC, that's all...
Category (3) - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)
What is PVC?
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or Vinyl) is an economical and versatile thermoplastic polymer widely used in the construction and building industry to produce door and window profiles, pipes (for drinking water and sewage), wire and cable insulation, etc. It is also known as the third most widely produced thermoplastic material in terms of volume, following polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is a rigid, white, brittle material found in powder or granule form. Due to its desirable properties such as light weight, durability, low cost, and ease of processing, PVC is replacing traditional construction materials such as wood, metal, concrete, ceramics, etc.
How is PVC produced?
The raw materials for PVC production originate from salt and petroleum derivatives. This is why the first PVC production plants were located near natural salt sources. The electrolysis of saltwater produces chlorine, which is converted into vinyl chloride monomer when combined with ethylene at high temperatures. These monomer molecules polymerize to form the resin of polyvinyl chloride or PVC.
Hard PVC types, such as those used for window frames, are usually PVC-U, which means unplasticized PVC. On the other hand, flexible PVC is achieved by adding plasticizing additives such as phthalates. Additionally, antioxidants are added to make the material resistant to light (UV) exposure. Other additives include stabilizers, compatibilizers, flame retardants, pigments, plasticizers, impact modifiers, and fillers.
History of PVC
A wealth of evidence shows that PVC (polyvinyl chloride) was first created over a century ago. The history begins in two distinct years, 1838 and 1872 when French physicist Henri Victor Regnault and German chemist Eugen Baumann respectively discovered PVC for the first time.
After these independent discoveries, no one actually started using PVC in commercial applications until 1913 when a German inventor named Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte decided to obtain the first patent on this material. His method of polymerizing vinyl chloride utilized sunlight, and over the next few decades, companies worldwide began experimenting where Klatte's patent seemed not to cover.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, industrial scientist Waldo Semon was summoned to develop a new synthetic alternative material to replace natural rubber. The experiments with polyvinyl chloride began, but the project was hindered by the recession of 1920, and it was then that Semon had a new idea: using PVC as a water-resistant coating for fabrics.
Sales of this material quickly grew, with peak demand occurring at the start of World War II when PVC was approved as an insulator for electrical installations on military vessels.
From the 1950s, PVC production was increasing worldwide. The construction industry readily embraced this plastic due to its resistance to light, chemicals, and corrosion, making it a key material for building structures. Further improvements in material engineering were made by intervening in the temperature resistance of PVC in the 1980s. During the same time, thousands of homes in America began incorporating the material into their plumbing systems, and many global companies started producing PVC commercially.
From medicine to IT, transportation, textiles, and construction, PVC has proven to be a low-cost material with broad performance capabilities.
Since PVC without additives is practically useless, it needs to be combined with a series of additives to achieve desired properties in the final product. These additives include toxic plasticizers (such as phthalates), stabilizers containing hazardous heavy metals (like lead), fungicides, and other toxic substances. Because these additives are not chemically bound to PVC, the PVC product itself can immediately pose a risk to consumers. Additives can leach out, migrate into other materials, or be released into the air. The potential human exposure examples are as numerous as PVC products themselves. The indoor air of new cars is a well-known example of what experts call "chemical fogging" from PVC products. Plasticizers have been shown to transfer directly from the adhesive film of PVC plastic into food. Children's teeth from vinyl toys containing toxic additives. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning in 1996 when it found that PVC blinds emitted lead dust, which could have harmful effects on children's brains.
Chlorine is the fundamental building block of our most toxic problems. Hundreds of chlorine-based toxins are accumulating in the air, water, and food chain. Many of these chemicals, known as organochlorines, are resistant to degradation and will persist in the environment for decades to come. Scientific studies show that these chemicals are linked to serious and widespread health problems, including infertility, immune system damage, impaired childhood development, hormone disruption, cancer, and many other harmful effects.
Due to the chemical structure of organochlorines, humans, and animals are unable to easily eliminate them from their bodies. Many of these compounds accumulate in fatty tissues, reaching levels thousands or millions of times higher than in the surrounding environment. No one can escape contamination, and each of us has measurable amounts of organochlorine toxins in our bodies. Some organochlorines can impact human life before birth, during the most vulnerable stages of development, posing a toxic and catastrophic influence on future generations. Additionally, because dioxins and other chlorinated chemicals can travel globally, the harmful effects of PVC production are felt everywhere. However, some communities are disproportionately affected, particularly those living near PVC manufacturing plants, which release large amounts of toxic chemicals into the surrounding environment. Discharged pollutants affect drinking water contamination, and incinerators spread dioxins and other hazardous constituents into the air. Therefore, nearby communities, farms, and fishing areas suffer the most severe consequences. Many such plants are located near impoverished communities with little or no political influence.
In 1987, the town of Reveilletown, Louisiana, was contaminated to such an extent that 106 residents were relocated and every structure was demolished, including the church. The management of the nearby Dow Chemical plant followed suit by purchasing the entire town of Morrisonville, Louisiana.
Because PVC itself is practically useless, it needs to be combined with a series of additives to give it the desired properties in the final product. These additives include toxic plasticizers (such as phthalates), stabilizers containing hazardous heavy metals (like lead), fungicides, and other toxic substances. Because these additives are not chemically bound to PVC, the PVC product itself can immediately pose a risk to consumers. Additives can leach out, migrate into other materials, or be released into the air. The potential human exposure examples are as numerous as PVC products themselves. The indoor air of new cars is a well-known example of what experts call "chemical fogging" from PVC products. Plasticizers have been shown to transfer directly from the adhesive film of PVC plastic into food. Children's teeth from vinyl toys containing toxic additives. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning in 1996 when it found that PVC blinds emitted lead dust, which could have harmful effects on children's brains.
Why is PVC used so extensively?
- It is accessible and relatively inexpensive;
- It is very dense and therefore highly durable;
- It has excellent resistance to deformation compared to other plastics;
- It has exceptional tensile strength;
- It is highly resistant to chemicals and alkalis.
- PVC was discovered accidentally, not once, but twice!
- Window profiles are created from PVC;
- PVC contains hazardous chemical additives that are toxic;
- PVC is the third most widely used polymer in the world, after polyethylene and polypropylene;
- PVC without additives is a very brittle and useless material.