Potentially dangerous chemical found in school supplies

Potentially dangerous chemical found in school supplies »Play Video
PVC can be found in some school supplies, new research says.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Just in time for back to school shopping, new research is warning parents about a potentially dangerous chemical found in common school supplies.

PVC, a toxic plastic, is linked to many different health problems and can be found in some backpacks, lunch boxes and binders.

PVC is already banned from toys, but not school supplies. Exposure can potentially cause birth defects, asthma, obesity, early puberty, infertility and diabetes.

“It basically acts like hormones in the body when kids are exposed through inhaling or ingesting, so that’s why we’re concerned,” said Jen Coleman of the Oregon Environmental Council.

“What you’re looking for is that clear, shiny, flexible plastic that has that characteristic plastic smell,” she said. “Then it’s likely to be vinyl.”

Coleman said some tags and labels will tell you if a product has PVC, but that’s not always the case.

“Look for something you trust and you know,” said Coleman. “Recycled paper products, fabric products, made with something like polyester. If you see a plastic, and it has that plastic smell, and it doesn’t have a label, avoid it and move on.”