Most people haven’t heard about an eco-friendly 3-ring binder. Why bother?
You may only use a few binders a year, but that adds up to 40-60 million 3-ring binders sold in the US alone every year. The vast majority of these are made from vinyl. So what is wrong with that?
Those 40 million vinyl binders are going to landfill, being un-recyclable. They are toxic throughout their entire life cycle and will eventually leech into the water supply.
Is it bad? Ask the people who make it and they way no way. Ask the people who got crazy rare liver cancers 40 years ago before the plants were forced to clean up their act and not poison the workers – well you may get a different answer. We have done a lot of research at Naked Binder – read a lot of reports and the Plastic Council’s responses to them and I am going to have to say this. One vinyl binder wont kill you. A lifetime of handling, eating out of, breathing and drinking out of vinyl can. Like many things, the dangers are clear, but many results are hidden by other factors.
At issue for us is that while vinyl is TECHNICALLY recyclable, it is not recycled. It is too toxic for your local recycling plant and the vinyl companies don’t want it. It goes to landfills, which have a great history of burning, leaching chemicals and other fine things.
Short answer is – there is a better alternatives that are not going to harm you, the environment, the people who made it, and your kids. They also last longer and look better which saves you money over the life of the binder.
More information for you:
Fire and explosion hazard
OSHA lists vinyl chloride as a Class IA Flammable Liquid, with an National Fire Protection Association Flammability Rating of 4. Because of its low boiling point, liquid VCM will undergoflash evaporation (i.e., autorefrigerate) upon its release to atmospheric pressure. The portion vaporized will form a dense cloud (more than twice as heavy as the surrounding air). The risk of subsequent explosion or fire is significant. According to OSHA, the flash point of vinyl chloride is -78 °C (-108 °F). Its flammable limits in air are: lower 3.6 volume% and upper 33.0 volume%. Fire may release toxic hydrogen chloride (HCl) and carbon monoxide (CO).
The hepatotoxicity of vinyl chloride has long been established since the 1930s when the PVC industry was just in its infant stages. In the very first study about the dangers of vinyl chloride, published by Patty in 1930, it was disclosed that exposure of test animals to just a single short-term high dose of vinyl chloride caused liver damage. In 1949, a Russian publication by Tribukh discussed the finding that vinyl chloride caused liver injury among workers. In 1954, Rex Wilson, Medical Director, and William McCormick, Industrial Hygienist and Toxicologist, both of B.F. Goodrich Chemical, published an article that stated that it was known vinyl chloride caused liver injury for short-term exposures; but almost nothing was known about its long-term effects. They also stated that long-term animal toxicology studies should be performed to fill this void of information. The study noted that if a chemical did not justify the cost of testing, and its ill-effects on workers and the public were known, the chemical should not be made. Thereafter, in 1963, Lester and Greenberg published an article reporting their findings from research paid for in part by Allied Chemical. They too found liver damage in test animals from exposures below 500 parts per million (ppm). Then, in 1963, a Romanian researcher, Suciu, published his findings of liver disease in vinyl chloride workers. In 1968, Mutchler and Kramer, two Dow researchers, reported their finding that exposures as low as 300 ppm caused liver damage in vinyl chloride workers thus confirming earlier animal data in humans. In a 1969 presentation given in Japan, P. L. Viola, a European researcher working for the European vinyl chloride industry, indicated, “every monomer used in V.C. manufacture is hazardous….various changes were found in bone and liver. Particularly, much more attention should be drawn to liver changes. The findings in rats at the concentration of 4 to 10 ppm are shown in pictures.” In light of the finding of liver damage in rats from just 4-10 ppm of vinyl chloride exposure, Viola added that he “should like some precautions to be taken in the manufacturing plants polymerizing vinyl chloride, such as a reduction of the threshold limit value of monomer …”  In 1970, Viola, reported that test animals exposed to 30,000 ppm of vinyl chloride developed cancerous tumors. Viola began his research looking for the cause of liver and bone injuries found in vinyl chloride workers. Viola’s findings in 1970 were a “red flag” to B.F. Goodrich and the industry. In 1972, Maltoni, another Italian researcher for the European vinyl chloride industry, found liver tumors (including angiosarcoma) from vinyl chloride exposures as low as 250 ppm for four hours a day.
In the late 1960s, the cancers that all of these studies warned of finally manifested themselves in workers. John Creech from B.F. Goodrich discovered angiosarcoma (a very rare cancer) in the liver of a worker at the B.F. Goodrich plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Then, finally, on January 23, 1974, B.F. Goodrich informed the government and issued a press release stating that it was “investigating whether the cancer deaths of three employees in the polyvinyl chloride operations at its Louisville, Ky. plant were related to occupational causes.” By then there really was no doubt that vinyl chloride caused angiosarcoma of the liver; it had been shown in both animal studies and worker experience.
A 1997 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report concluded that the development and acceptance by the PVC industry of a closed loop polymerization process in the late 1970s “almost completely eliminated worker exposures” and that “new cases of hepatic angiosarcoma in vinyl chloride polymerization workers have been virtually eliminated.”
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “vinyl chloride emissions from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ethylene dichloride (EDC), and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plants cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to result in an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness. Vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen that causes a rare cancer of the liver.” EPA’s 2001 updated Toxicological Profile and Summary Health Assessment for VCM in its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database lowers EPA’s previous risk factor estimate by a factor of 20 and concludes that “because of the consistent evidence for liver cancer in all the studies…and the weaker association for other sites, it is concluded that the liver is the most sensitive site, and protection against liver cancer will protect against possible cancer induction in other tissues.”
A 1998 front-page series in the Houston Chronicle claimed the vinyl industry has manipulated vinyl chloride studies to avoid liability for worker exposure and to hide extensive and severe chemical spills into local communities. Retesting of community residents in 2001 by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found dioxin levels similar to those in a comparison community in Louisiana and to the U.S. population. Cancer rates in the community were similar to Louisiana and US averages.