Medicine: The Plastic Peril

Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas that has been used as a propellant in such popular products as hair, disinfectant and insect sprays. It is also the principal ingredient of polyvinyl chlorides, the plastics that go into a host of familiar products including food wrappers and containers, suitcases, detergent bottles and garbage bags. No one questions vinyl chloride's utility, but a growing number of doctors now suspect its safety. Increasing evidence links vinyl chloride to a crippling bone disease and a rare but invariably fatal form of cancer.

Evidence of vinyl chloride's toxicity has been around for years. Production of polyvinyl chloride...

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