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Ask The Green Mama: I know PVC (vinyl) is bad: How bad are vinyl windows?

I always try to completely avoid PVC plastic.  Recently I discovered that my son’s kindergarten have PVC frame windows. I really like this school and this one is the best one in our town (organic food, wood toys, a lot of playing outside and actually a lot of concern with chemicals and stuff, but for my nightmare it does have PVC windows). Obviously, I can not demand for the school to replace them. How dangerous are PVC Windows for the children’s health?

If you could enlighten me on this I would really appreciate it `cause I’m a little panicked here. Thank you for all your information!


Dear Vanessa

While PVC is one of the worst plastics for the environment and thus the pollution from this industry can hurt us all, for your specific child I would focus on keeping him away from plastics that could get near food or that are in skincare products. The PVC in a home is an issue for your child’s health in case of a fire, but isn’t significantly adding to the indoor air pollution of the school or your home. Indeed, they are probably newer windows and thus more insulating and easier to open (opening windows is a great way to improve the quality of indoor air.)

I recommend a couple of articles on my website that I think will help you feel better and get informed on these issues.

To learn more about PVC read this article on the ABCs of Common Household Toxins.

As you have already guessed, many of the worst pollutants we come into contact with are in our indoor air: particularly in our homes and our schools. Why is indoor air so bad and why is it such a problem? For the long answer, read the hyperlinked article on it. In short, it’s so bad because we spend so much time inside and we have concentrated so many big polluters inside with us and it’s a problem because indoor air pollution is linked to everything from learning disabilities to cancer. Learn what the big polluters are inside your home.

PVC plastic–also known as vinyl–is one of the worst plastics and you definitely want to keep your child from inhaling fumes from it or ingesting small particles in his food or water. Like most plastics, PVC can mess with your child’s developing hormone system and more. Learn more about what you can do to reduce your exposure to the worst plastics.

You might also like this article about whether mom’s worry about the wrong things and how to really keep your child safe. By the way, I think you are asking the “right” kind of questions and the school you found sounds like they are doing a lot of the most important things to keep your child healthy and “safe.”

Here is more about what you can do to  help your classroom or school go green.

Good luck Vanessa and rest assured about those windows.