Plastics 101

The Many Benefits of PVC

PVC (vinyl), a type of plastic, is essential to patient and healthcare worker safety—but its benefits don’t end there.

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What do raincoats, garden hoses, shower curtains, window frames, electrical wiring, flooring, roofing, food cling wrap, children’s toys, cars and medical supplies all have in common? They’re made from PVC and plasticizers.

What Is PVC?

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, also called vinyl. It’s made with carbon atoms derived from ethylene—which is created from natural gas or oil—and chlorine derived from salt.

PVC products last a long time. Flooring and roofing made from PVC can last for more than 20 years, and PVC water pipes used in infrastructure projects can last for more than 50. PVC products can also be recycled and reused. PVC is recycled by being ground into small pieces that are then processed into compounds to be melted and formed into new products.

PVC Saves Lives

PVC is widely used in medical applications today because it’s impermeable to germs, is easily cleaned and provides single-use applications that reduce infections in healthcare.

PVC has been used in the medical realm for more than 50 years. It was first developed to make flexible tubing and containers to replace the rubber and glass that had previously been used for applications in healthcare.

Some examples of PVC used in hospitals include:

  • Basins
  • Bedpans
  • Blood bags
  • Catheters
  • Drip chambers
  • Enteral feeding devices
  • Hemodialysis equipment
  • Inflatable splints
  • IV containers
  • Lab equipment
  • Medical gloves
  • Packaging
  • Patient ID bracelets
  • Respiratory therapy products
  • Thermal blankets
  • Tubing

PVC in Building and Construction

PVC is a durable material that’s resistant to weathering, which is why it’s so often used in building and construction. It’s also resistant to chemicals and doesn’t conduct electricity, making it crucial for use in high-tech applications, such as wire and cable.

If you were to design a material that was ideal for building and construction, you’d be hard-pressed to create something as well suited for the task as PVC. Both rigid and flexible forms of PVC are replacing traditional building materials, such as wood, concrete and metal, in several applications, for one good reason: PVC just does it better.

PVC is commonly used in the production of:

  • Caulks
  • Decking
  • Fences
  • Flooring
  • Pipes
  • Roofing
  • Sealants
  • Siding
  • Soffits (the underside of architectural features including arches, balconies, etc.)
  • Wall covering
  • Windows
  • Wire and cable jacketing

Learn more about PVC and other plastics’ role in building and construction here.

What Are Plasticizers?

Since, by itself, PVC is brittle, it needs a plasticizer made from an acid and alcohol to make it more functional.

Plasticizers are made worldwide in facilities that are held to high standards of environmental safety, ensuring production is clean and waste is minimal. In fact, the only by-product that comes from the production of plasticizers is water, which is filtered, treated and recycled afterward.

Manufacturers are working every day to create new plasticizers that are biobased, all without sacrificing performance, cost or availability for these products.

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