PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENT Vinyl Chloride

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PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental MedicineThis Public Health Statement is the summarychapter from the Toxicological Profile for VinylChloride. It is one in a series of Public HealthStatements about hazardous substances and theirhealth effects. A shorter version, the ToxFAQs ,is also available. This information is importantbecause this substance may harm you. The effectsof exposure to any hazardous substance depend onthe dose, the duration, how you are exposed,personal traits and habits, and whether otherchemicals are present. For more information, callthe ATSDR Information Center at 1-888-422-8737.This public health statement tells you about vinylchloride and the effects of exposure to it.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)identifies the most serious hazardous waste sites inthe nation. These sites are then placed on theNational Priorities List (NPL) and are targeted forlong-term federal clean-up activities. Vinylchloride has been found in at least 616 of the1,662 current or former NPL sites. Although thetotal number of NPL sites evaluated for thissubstance is not known, the possibility exists thatthe number of sites at which vinyl chloride is foundcould increase in the future as more sites areevaluated. This information is important becausethese sites may be sources of exposure, andexposure to this substance can harm you.When a substance is released either from a largearea, such as an industrial plant, or from a container,such as a drum or bottle, it enters the environment.Such a release does not always lead to exposure.You can be exposed to a substance only when youcome in contact with it. You may be exposed byJuly 2006breathing, eating, or drinking the substance, or byskin contact.If you are exposed to vinyl chloride, many factorswill determine whether you will be harmed. Thesefactors include the dose (how much), the duration(how long), and how you come in contact with it.You must also consider any other chemicals you areexposed to and your age, sex, diet, family traits,lifestyle, and state of health.1.1WHAT IS VINYL CHLORIDE?Vinyl chloride is known also as chloroethene,chloroethylene, ethylene monochloride, ormonochloroethylene. At room temperature, it is acolorless gas, it burns easily, and it is not stable athigh temperatures. Vinyl chloride exists in liquidform if kept under high pressure or at lowtemperatures. Vinyl chloride has a mild, sweetodor, which may become noticeable at 3,000 partsvinyl chloride per million parts (ppm) of air.However, the odor is of little value in preventingexcess exposure. Most people begin to taste vinylchloride in water at 3.4 ppm.Vinyl chloride is a manufactured substance thatdoes not occur naturally; however, it can be formedin the environment when other manufacturedsubstances, such as trichloroethylene, trichloroethane, and tetrachloroethylene, are broken down bycertain microorganisms. Production of vinylchloride in the United States grew at an average rateof about 7% from the early 1980s to the early1990s, with current growth at about 3% annually.Most of the vinyl chloride produced in the UnitedStates is used to make a polymer called polyvinylchloride (PVC), which consists of long repeatingDEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicineunits of vinyl chloride. PVC is used to make avariety of plastic products including pipes, wire andcable coatings, and packaging materials. Other usesinclude furniture and automobile upholstery, wallcoverings, housewares, and automotive parts. Atone time, vinyl chloride was used as a coolant, as apropellant in spray cans, and in some cosmetics.However, since the mid-1970s, vinyl chloridemostly has been used in the manufacture of PVC.1.2WHAT HAPPENS TO VINYL CHLORIDEWHEN IT ENTERS THEENVIRONMENT?Most of the vinyl chloride that enters theenvironment comes from vinyl chloridemanufacturing or processing plants, which release itinto the air or into waste water. EPA limits theamount that industries can release. Vinyl chloridealso is a breakdown product of other syntheticchemicals. Vinyl chloride has entered theenvironment at hazardous waste sites as a result ofimproper disposal or leakage from storagecontainers or spills, but some may result from thebreakdown of other chemicals. In addition, vinylchloride has been found in tobacco smoke at verylow levels.Liquid vinyl chloride evaporates easily. Vinylchloride in water or soil evaporates rapidly if it isnear the surface. Vinyl chloride in the air breaksdown in a few days, resulting in the formation ofseveral other chemicals including hydrochloric acid,formaldehyde, and carbon dioxide.Some vinyl chloride can dissolve in water. Vinylchloride can migrate to groundwater and can be inJuly 2006groundwater due to the breakdown of otherchemicals. Vinyl chloride is unlikely to build up inplants or animals that you might eat.1.3HOW MIGHT I BE EXPOSED TO VINYLCHLORIDE?Because vinyl chloride usually exists in a gaseousstate, you are most likely to be exposed to it bybreathing it. Vinyl chloride is not normally foundin urban, suburban, or rural air in amounts that aredetectable by the usual methods of analysis.However, vinyl chloride has been found in the airnear vinyl chloride manufacturing and processingplants, hazardous waste sites, and landfills. Theamount of vinyl chloride in the air near these placesranges from trace amounts to over 1 ppm. Levels ashigh as 44 ppm were found in the air at somelandfills. You can also be exposed to vinyl chloridein the air through tobacco smoke from cigarettes orcigars (both active smoking and second-handsmoke). Levels of vinyl chloride in tobacco smokeare very low, usually around 5–30 nanograms percigarette (a nanogram is 0.000000001 gram).You can be exposed to vinyl chloride by drinkingwater from contaminated wells. Most drinkingwater supplies do not contain vinyl chloride. In a1982 survey, vinyl chloride was found in fewer than1% of the 945 groundwater supplies tested in theUnited States. The concentrations in groundwaterwere up to 0.008 ppm. Other studies have reportedvinyl chloride in groundwater at concentrations ator below 0.38 ppm. At one time, the flow of waterthrough PVC pipes added very low amounts ofvinyl chloride to water. For example, in one studyof newly installed pipes, the drinking water hadDEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine0.001 ppm of vinyl chloride. No currentinformation is available about the amount of vinylchloride released from PVC pipes into water. In thepast, vinyl chloride could get into food stored inmaterials containing PVC, but the U.S. governmentnow regulates the amount of vinyl chloride in foodpackaging materials. When less than about 1 ppmof vinyl chloride is trapped in PVC packaging, vinylchloride in detectable amounts does not enter foodby contact with these products.People who work at facilities that make vinylchloride or PVC usually are exposed to higherlevels than the general population. Work exposureoccurs primarily from breathing air that containsvinyl chloride, but workers also are exposed whenvinyl chloride contacts the skin or eyes. Based onstudies using animals, it is possible that if vinylchloride comes into contact with your skin or eyes,extremely small amounts could enter your body.1.4HOW CAN VINYL CHLORIDE ENTERAND LEAVE MY BODY?If vinyl chloride gas contacts your skin, tinyamounts may pass through the skin and enter yourbody. Vinyl chloride is more likely to enter yourbody when you breathe air or drink watercontaining it. This could occur near certainfactories or hazardous waste sites or in theworkplace. At low levels ( 20 ppm), most of thevinyl chloride that you breathe or swallow entersyour blood rapidly, then travels throughout yourbody. When some portion of it reaches your liver,your liver changes it into several substances. Mostof these new substances also travel in your blood;once they reach your kidneys, they leave your bodyJuly 2006in your urine. Most of the vinyl chloride is gonefrom your body a day after you breathe or swallowit. The liver, however, makes some new substancesthat do not leave your body as rapidly. A few ofthese new substances are more harmful than vinylchloride because they react with chemicals insideyour body and interfere with the way your bodynormally uses or responds to these chemicals.Some of these substances react in the liver and,depending on how much vinyl chloride you breathein, may produce damage there. Your body needsmore time to get rid of these changed chemicals, buteventually removes them as well. If you breathe orswallow more vinyl chloride than your liver canchemically change, you will breathe out excessvinyl chloride.1.5HOW CAN VINYL CHLORIDE AFFECTMY HEALTH?Scientists use many tests to protect the public fromharmful effects of toxic chemicals and to find waysto treat people who have been harmed.One way to learn whether a chemical will harmpeople is to determine how the body absorbs, uses,and releases the chemical. For some chemicals,animal testing may be necessary. Animal testingmay also help identify health effects, such as canceror birth defects. Without laboratory animals,scientists would lose a basic method for gettinginformation needed to make wise decisions thatprotect public health. Scientists have theresponsibility to treat research animals with careand compassion. Scientists must comply with strictanimal-care guidelines because laws today protectthe welfare of research animals.DEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental MedicineIf you breathe high levels of vinyl chloride, you willfeel dizzy or sleepy. These effects occur within5 minutes if you are exposed to about 10,000 ppmof vinyl chloride. You can easily smell vinylchloride at this concentration. It has a mild, sweetodor. If you breathe still higher levels (25,000ppm), you may pass out. You can rapidly recoverfrom these effects if you breathe fresh air. Somepeople get a headache when they breathe fresh airimmediately after breathing very high levels ofvinyl chloride. People who breathe extremely highlevels of vinyl chloride can die. Studies in animalsshow that extremely high levels of vinyl chloridecan damage the liver, lungs, and kidneys. Theselevels also can damage the heart and prevent bloodclotting. The effects of ingesting vinyl chloride areunknown. If you spill liquid vinyl chloride on yourskin, it will numb the skin and produce redness andblisters.Some people who have breathed vinyl chloride forseveral years have changes in the structure of theirlivers. People are more likely to develop thesechanges if they breathe high levels of vinylchloride. Some people who have worked with vinylchloride have nerve damage, and others develop animmune reaction. The lowest levels that produceliver changes, nerve damage, and immune reactionin people are not known. Certain jobs related toPVC production expose workers to very high levelsof vinyl chloride (i.e., pools of liquid vinyl chloridein vats or autoclaves). Some of these workers haveproblems with the blood flow in their hands. Theirfingers turn white and hurt when they go into thecold and may take a long time to recover when theygo into a warm place. In some of these people,changes have appeared on the skin of their handsand forearms. Also, bones at the tips of theirfingers have broken down. Studies suggest thatJuly 2006some people may be more sensitive to these effectsthan others.Some men who work with vinyl chloride havecomplained of a lack of sex drive. Studies inanimals showed that long-term exposure candamage the sperm and testes. Some women whowork with vinyl chloride have reported irregularmenstrual periods. Some have developed highblood pressure during pregnancy.Results from several studies have suggested thatbreathing air or drinking water containing moderatelevels (100 ppm) of vinyl chloride might increasetheir risk for cancer. However, the levels used inthese studies were much higher than levels found inthe ambient air and/or most drinking water supplies.Studies of workers who have breathed vinylchloride over many years showed an increased riskfor cancer of the liver. Brain cancer, lung cancer,and some cancers of the blood also may beconnected with breathing vinyl chloride over longperiods. Studies of long-term exposure in animalsshowed that cancer of the liver and mammary glandmay increase at very low levels of vinyl chloride inthe air (50 ppm). Lab animals fed low levels ofvinyl chloride each day (2 mg/kg/day) during theirlifetime had an increased risk of getting livercancer.The U.S. Department of Health and HumanServices has determined that vinyl chloride is aknown carcinogen. The International Agency forResearch on Cancer has determined that vinylchloride is carcinogenic to people, and EPA hasdetermined that vinyl chloride is a humancarcinogen.DEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine1.6HOW CAN VINYL CHLORIDE AFFECTCHILDREN?This section discusses potential health effects inhumans from exposures during the period fromconception to maturity at 18 years of age.No studies are available that specifically address theeffects of vinyl chloride in children. Studies ofwomen who live near vinyl chloride manufacturingplants did not show that vinyl chloride producesbirth defects. Studies using pregnant animalsshowed that breathing high levels of vinyl chloride(5,000 ppm) can harm unborn baby animals.Animal studies also show that vinyl chloride canproduce more miscarriages early in pregnancy anddecrease weight and delay skeletal development infetuses. These same very high levels of vinylchloride also caused harmful effects in the pregnantanimals. Inhalation studies with animals havesuggested that vinyl chloride might affect growthand development. Animal studies also suggest thatinfants and young children might be moresusceptible than adults to vinyl chloride-inducedcancer.1.7HOW CAN FAMILIES REDUCE THERISK OF EXPOSURE TO VINYLCHLORIDE?If your doctor finds that you have been exposed tosubstantial amounts of vinyl chloride, ask whetheryour children might also have been exposed. Yourdoctor might need to ask your state healthdepartment to investigate.July 2006You can take some steps to limit your exposure tovinyl chloride. Very low levels of vinyl chlorideexist in the ambient air, but these levels are usuallynot high enough to be a cause of concern. If youlive near a hazardous waste site, municipal landfill,or a chemical plant that produces vinyl chloride orPVC, you might be exposed to higher levels of thiscompound than the general public. Vinyl chloridecan leach from plastic PVC bottles or containersused to contain foods or beverages, but governmentagencies such as the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) have restricted the amount of vinyl chloridethat can be present in these packages. Tobaccosmoke contains low levels of vinyl chloride, solimiting your family’s exposure to cigarette or cigarsmoke may help reduce their exposure to vinylchloride.People who work in facilities that manufacture oruse vinyl chloride could be exposed to high levelsof this chemical. The Occupational Safety andHealth Administration (OSHA) regulates theselevels and employers must comply with these rules.If you work in an industry that manufactures or usesvinyl chloride, strictly adhere to the rules providedby the safety officer and always use respiratorswhen advised.1.8IS THERE A MEDICAL TEST TODETERMINE WHETHER I HAVE BEENEXPOSED TO VINYL CHLORIDE?The results of several tests can sometimes show ifyou have been exposed to vinyl chloride, dependingon the amount of your exposure and how recently ithappened. However, scientists do not knowwhether these measurements can tell how muchDEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicinevinyl chloride you have been exposed to. Thesetests are not normally available at your doctor'soffice. Vinyl chloride can be measured in yourbreath, but the test must be done shortly afterexposure. This test is not very helpful formeasuring very low levels of the chemical. Theamount of the major breakdown product of vinylchloride, thiodiglycolic acid, in the urine may givesome information about exposure. However, thistest must be done shortly after exposure and doesnot reliably indicate the level of exposure. Also,exposure to other chemicals can produce the samebreakdown products in your urine. Vinyl chloridecan bind to genetic material in your body. Theamount of this binding can be measured bysampling your blood and other tissues. Thismeasurement will give information about whetheryou have been exposed to vinyl chloride, but it isnot sensitive enough to determine the effects on thegenetic material resulting from exposure.1.9WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS HAS THEFEDERAL GOVERNMENT MADE TOPROTECT HUMAN HEALTH?The federal government develops regulations andrecommendations to protect public health.Regulations can be enforced by law. The EPA, theOccupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), and the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) are some federal agencies that developregulations for toxic substances. Recommendationsprovide valuable guidelines to protect public health,but cannot be enforced by law. The Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)and the National Institute for Occupational SafetyJuly 2006and Health (NIOSH) are two federal organizationsthat develop recommendations for toxic substances.Regulations and recommendations can be expressedas “not-to-exceed” levels, that is, levels of a toxicsubstance in air, water, soil, or food that do notexceed a critical value that is usually based onlevels that affect animals; they are then adjusted tolevels that will help protect humans. Sometimesthese not-to-exceed levels differ among federalorganizations because they used different exposuretimes (an 8-hour workday or a 24-hour day),different animal studies, or other factors.Recommendations and regulations are also updatedperiodically as more information becomes available.For the most current information, check with thefederal agency or organization that provides it.Some regulations and recommendations for vinylchloride include the following:Vinyl chloride is regulated in drinking water, food,and air. Because it is a hazardous substance,regulations on its disposal, packaging, and otherforms of handling also exist. EPA requires that theamount of vinyl chloride in drinking water notexceed 0.002 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of water(0.002 ppm). Under the EPA's Ambient WaterQuality Criteria for the protection of human health,a concentration of 0.025 micrograms per L (μg/L)of water (0.025 ppb) was established for protectinghuman health from water and organism ingestionand 2.4 micrograms per L (μg/L) of water (2.4 ppb)was determined for consumption of organisms only.To limit intake of vinyl chloride through foods tolevels considered safe, FDA regulates the vinylchloride content of various plastics. These includeplastics that carry liquids and plastics that contactDEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENTVinyl ChlorideCAS#: 75-01-4Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicinefood. The limits for vinyl chloride content varydepending on the nature of the plastic and its use.EPA has established a reportable quantity for vinylchloride. If quantities of more than 1 pound(0.454 kilograms) are released to the environment,the National Response Center of the federalgovernment must be told immediately.OSHA regulates levels of vinyl chloride in theworkplace. No employee may be exposed to vinylchloride at levels greater than 1 ppm averaged overany 8-hour period or levels greater than 5 ppmaveraged over any period exceeding 15 minutes.NIOSH recommends that the exposure limit (for atime-weighted average [TWA]) for vinyl chloride inair be the lowest reliably detectable concentration.Workers exposed to any measurable amount of itmust wear special breathing equipment. EPA setsemission standards for vinyl chloride and PVCplants. The amount of vinyl chloride allowed to beemitted varies depending on the type of productionand the discharge system used.July 2006Toxicological profiles also are available on-line atwww.atsdr.cdc.gov and on CD-ROM. You canrequest a copy of the ATSDR ToxProfiles CDROM by calling the toll-free information andtechnical assistance number at 1-888-42ATSDR (1888-422-8737), by e-mailing [email protected], orby writing to:Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease RegistryDivision of Toxicology and EnvironmentalMedicine1600 Clifton Road NEMailstop F-32Atlanta, GA 30333Fax: 1-770-488-4178For-profit organizations may request copies of finalToxicological Profiles fromNational Technical Information Service (NTIS)5285 Port Royal RoadSpringfield, VA 22161Phone: 1-800-553-6847 or 1-703-605-6000Web site: http://www.ntis.gov/1.10 WHERE CAN I GET MOREINFORMATION?If you have any more questions or concerns, pleasecontact your community or state health orenvironmental quality department, or contactATSDR at the address and phone number below.ATSDR can also tell you the location ofoccupational and environmental health clinics.These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating,and treating illnesses that result from exposure tohazardous substances.DEPARTMENT of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health ServiceAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registrywww.atsdr.cdc.gov/Telephone: 1-888-422-8737Fax: 770-488-4178E-Mail: [email protected]

manufacturing or processing plants, which release it into the air or into waste water. EPA limits the amount that industries can release. Vinyl chloride . people get a headache when they breathe fresh air immediately after breathing very high levels of vinyl chloride. People who breathe ext