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Waste Not #361

Summer 1996
A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617


The Toronto City Council, at its meeting on April 29 and 30, 1996, adopted the following resolution which:

1. Requested Health Canada to address the potential health and environmental impacts of materials used in the drinking water distribution system and establish enforceable controls on the quality of materials as part of the development of any regulations under the proposed Canadian Drinking Water Safety Act.

2. Requested Environment Canada and Industry Canada to ensure that the Memorandum of Understanding with the Vinyl Council of Canada include the following provisions: that the vinyl industry fund an independent life cycle analysis of health and environmental impacts of PVC-containing products; use technologies which do not produce emissions and use state of the art abatement measures to prevent accidental spills and releases.

3. Requested the National Research Council of Canada to compile and assess information on the environmental and health impacts of different pipe materials on a life cycle basis, to assist users in making environmentally prudent purchase decisions.

4. Ensured that when the City of Toronto disposes waste material containing PVC, the material will not be sent to an incinerator, it must be recycled or landfilled.

5. Directed that only ductile iron pipe or concrete will be used for water lines installed in soils that are contaminated with substances, such as solvents or hydrocarbons, that can permeate through plastic or PVC pipe.

6. Requested the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government to introduce legislation or regulation that will prevent the disposal of PVC by incinerator.

7. Requested Environment Canada and Industry Canada to expedite the development of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Vinyl Council of Canada to identify, prioritize, develop, and implement programs for issues related to the environmental impacts of the vinyl industry, after adequate public consultations.

8. Requested the Vinyl Council of Canada to request its member companies to initiate discussions with appropriate government agencies and unions to develop plans that will protect workers and communities during a transition to a manufacturing processes that do not involve the use or release of persistent toxic substances such as organochlorines.

9. Expressed its continuing support for the virtual elimination of persistent toxic substance such as organochlorines to the environment.

10. Requested the Acting Commissioner of Public Works and the Environment, in consultation with the Acting Medical Officer of Health, to report to the Board of Health on the feasibility of testing for contaminants in drinking water carried by PVC and other waterlines through contaminated land.

11. Requested Health Canada to include testing for pesticides permeating through PVC pipe in their leaching test.

12. Requested the Acting Fire Chief to report on setting up dioxin residue tests for scenes of fires.

13. Forwarded its action, together with all written material presented to the Committee and Council, including failed motions, to Environment Canada and Industry Canada for their information.

14. Requested the Acting Medical Officer of Health to report to the Board of Health and City Services Committee on the substance and implications of the Memorandum of Understanding between Environment Canada, Industry Canada and the Vinyl Council of Canada when it is available.

For more information on the Toronto City Council resolution, contact:

City Clerk of Toronto, Barbara Caplan, at 416-392-7030; or

Colleen Cooney, Ontario Health Advocacy Assoc., 1102 Kitchen Road, RR # 1,

Coldwater, Ontario, Canada LOK 1EO. Tel/Fax: 705-686-7457.

Nonyl phenol. Dr. Ana Soto (Dept. of Cellular Biology at Tufts University School of Medicine] found that “estrogenic” contamination of serum samples had occurred in her laboratory. Upon investigation she discovered that an estrogen-like substance was leaching from the plastic tubes used in the laboratory. When Dr. Soto contacted the plastic tube manufacturer, they denied her the formulation for the plastic on the grounds it was a trade secret. Dr. Soto believed it was important to know what was in the plastic and after several months of investigation she found that nonyl phenol was leaching from the plastic. According to Soto: “It was never supposed to be an estrogen and was supposed to be safe.” Nonyl phenol has been produced in the U.S. for the last 40 years and in 1993 over 450 million tons were produced. Nonyl phenol is used extensively in industry as an anti-oxidant in plastics and in the formulation of detergents and spermicide foams. It is persistent and bioacculmulative in the environment. Ref: Assault on the Male, a 1993 BBC Horizon TV program. (see also WN # 301.)

The following reports are available free from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Division of Toxicology/Toxicology Information Branch, 1600 Clifton Road NE, E-29, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

Diethyl Phthalate is designated as a hazardous substance. It is commonly used to make plastics more flexible. Because diethyl phthalate is not a part of the chain of chemicals (polymers) which makes up the plastics, it can be released fairly easily from these products. These plastics are found in products such as toothbrushes, automobile parts, tools, toys, and food packaging. Diethyl phthalate is also used in cosmetics, insecticides, and aspirin (p 2). Human exposure to diethyl phthalate can result from breathing contaminated air, eating foods into which diethyl phthalate has leached from packaging materials, eating contaminated seafood, drinking contaminated water, or as a result of medical treatment involving the use of polyvinyl chloride tubing (e.g. dialysis patients). The use of diethyl phthalate in consumer products, however, is likely to be the primary source of human exposure. Diethyl phthalate has been detected in adipose tissue samples taken from people (including children) nationwide. It is not included on the Toxics Release Inventory as a reportable chemical (p 73). As a result of its use as a plasticizer for cellulose ester films and extruded materials and in a variety of consumer products, human exposure to diethyl phthalate is expected to be significant. Diethyl phthalate may be released to the environment as a result of manufacturing processes, disposal in landfills, incomplete incineration, or by leaching or volatilization from products in which it is used...Diethyl phthalate may enter the atmosphere through combustion of plastics and, to a lesser degree, by volatilization (p 71). Diethyl phthalate was reported as an ingredient in 67 cosmetic formulations at concentrations ranging from <0.1% to 25-50%. In addition, diethyl phthalate is used as a component in insecticide sprays and mosquito repellents, as a camphor substitute, as a plasticizer in solid rocket propellants, as a wetting agent, as a dye application agent, as an ingredient in aspirin coatings, as a diluent in polysulfide dental impression materials, and in adhesives, plasticizers, and surface lubricants used in food and pharmaceutical packaging (p 70). Offspring of mice exposed to diethyl phthalate exhibited adverse effects as adults (decreased body weight, increased prostate weight, and decreased sperm count in males; increased liver and pituitary weights in females. These findings suggest that prenatal exposure to diethyl phthalate may be associated with adverse effects in mature offspring (p 53). Toxicological Profile for Diethyl Phthalate, June 1995.

Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a known endocrine disrupter, “is principally used as a plasticizer in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and vinyl chloride resins. Estimates are that least 95% of DEHP produced ends up in these uses. PVC is made flexible by addition of plasticizers and is used in many common items such as toys, vinyl upholstery, shower curtains, adhesives, coatings, and as components of paper and paperboard. Polyvinyl chloride is also used to produce disposable medical examination and surgical gloves, the flexible tubing used to administer parenteral solutions, and the tubing used in hemodialysis treatment (pg 88). The use of DEHP in domestically produced pacifiers has been discontinued. DEHP is also no longer used as a plasticizer in plastic food wrap products (pg 89). You can be exposed to DEHP through air, water, food, and skin contact. The most common way of being exposed to DEHP is through food. Food contributes an average of about 0.25 milligrams (mg) of DEHP per day to your diet. DEHP moves into foods from plastics during processing and storage. Fatty foods like milk, cheese, butter, shortenings, and vegetable oils are those most likely to contain DEHP. It is not clear, but it is likely, that little DEHP is transferred by skin contact with plastic clothing or other articles that contain DEHP. Exposure through this route is expected to be low since plastic articles of clothing, like raincoats, do not have direct contact with your skin, and transfer is probably very low even if you do touch them. DEHP levels in the indoor air in a newly painted room or a room with recently installed flooring could be higher than levels in the outdoor air. Humans can be exposed to DEHP through medical practices such as dialysis, respiration therapy, blood transfusions, or total parenteral nutrition treatment where the source of DEHP is the plastics utilized in medical treatment devices or storage bags (pp 2-3). Disposal of plastic products containing DEHP is the major source of environmental release (p 91). The age at first exposure to DEHP appears to have a clear influence on the degree and permanence of testicular damage...With chronic exposures to DEHP, the testicular damage persists...In mice exposed to 130 and 390 mg/kgday DEHP for 166 days in a continuous breeding experiment, there was a significant decrease in weights of the testes, epididymis, and prostate gland. The numbers of motile sperm and the sperm concentrations were decreased significantly, and there was an increase in the number of abnormal sperm (pp 44-45). Toxicological Profile for Di (2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate, April 1993.

Recommended reading: Our Stolen Future,

by Theo Colborn, John Peterson Myers and Dianne Dumanoski, published 1996 by Little, Brown and Company

for more background on the dangers of industrial produced hormone mimics.

WASTE NOT # 361. A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US50; Overseas $70.

Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, New York 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.