Does PN have hidden agenda against PVC?
Again Plastics News has seen fit to give a platform to an ardent foe of plastics and PVC in particular. I refer to the Aug. 14 Mailbag letter by David Wallinga of the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy attacking PVC. Once again you give these Luddites a voice in a publication supposed to be dedicated to the plastics industry. Do I detect a hidden agenda here? It's maybe a newspaper for the acceptable plastics industry, and perhaps PVC doesn't qualify.
IATP definitely has an agenda. It is to criticize industrial agriculture in general and food technology in particular. They were founded in 1986 with funds from the Unitarian Church's Veatch Foundation, run then by a former Greenpeace director. See any connection here? Push nontechnical processes. No chemicals allowed. No genetic engineering. No ... plastics unless made by corn conversion. Plants are good. Chemicals are bad.
I suggest you research who these anti-everything people are before publishing their letters, and at least identify them for your readers.
By the way, one of their studies purports to show how environmentally caused childhood diseases cost Minnesota $1.5 billion a year. The population of Minnesota is only 5 million souls, so this is an astounding figure ... and totally unbelievable, unless they count the common cold as an environmentally caused disease. It does get cold in Minnesota.
John P. Dellevigne
HPG International Inc.
Let's cite sources behind PVC studies
I find it interesting that David Wallinga believes that there are cost-effective alternatives coming from benign chemical processes for the majority of PVC products being produced today (``Reader says there's no safe level of PVC,'' Aug. 14, Page 6). If this is the case, why aren't they being used? Do they cost and perform satisfactorily or are they just near or under development? I also find it irritating that he can state without qualifications that throughout its entire life cycle, PVC releases toxic substances on the worker and the community.
Chemically, vinyl chloride monomer is a gas, and PVC is a solid plastic made from that gas, primarily in a chemical process called emulsion polymerization, a controlled reaction in an aqueous solution. The technology of even a decade ago is not the same as today. The chemical industries have learned better reaction and handling techniques and have implemented them. A starting raw material, VCM, may have nothing in common with the chemical properties of its polymer, PVC. Breathing VCM is not good for you, but neither is breathing gas fumes, ethylene, smoke, flour dust or steam. Why are vinyl chloride and PVC being talked about as if they were the same? In addition, most ``PVC'' products are actually formulated products containing many other materials.
Not to get too carried away, but another example where the starting material and the final polymer have nothing in common as far as hazards are concerned are urethanes. Phosgene, a gas, has little to do with the final properties and health effects of polyurethane, a polymer made from a raw material starting with phosgene. Most people know of phosgene, if for no other reason than it was a gas tried in World War I as a weapon of destruction. Urethanes are ubiquitous in today's world and are not considered to be a major hazard.
Not wanting to get into a diatribe, I would like to offer that Dr. Wallinga should at minimum cite the ``studies'' he refers to in his letter. Are the sources reputable and cited publications, or are they political sources with an objective behind them? Have the sources been accurately cited or just parts chosen for discussion? One cites a study so others can read it and judge for themselves. In addition, he appears to use the same scare tactic being used by most anti-PVC groups by paraphrasing some uncited study, scaring the hell out of everyone who reads the letter - some of whom may have a limited scientific background - and then stating that PVC was not directly implicated but could have been the cause, or that the hazards were just like those of PVC or vinyl chloride monomer exposure, i.e., ``... even if vinyl chloride exposure per se could not be implicated.''
It is true that corn- and potato- based polymers are having more developmental success all the time and it is also true that they have very limited real-world use to date. I am a strong proponent of American ingenuity and the use of biomaterials, but things under development are just that - under development. They need a lot of ingenuity before they can serve a useful function. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is a farm advocacy group, so I cannot fault Dr. Wallinga's desire to promote corn and potato products. I also would in his position. I can only guess what his motives are for getting involved with the PVC issue and then talking about possible vinyl chloride monomer studies, but chemical ignorance is not acceptable when discussing chemicals.
I do know that the hemicelluloses derived from corn are not the most benign materials, but can be converted into a very fine beverage which, when imbibed in excess, has documented deleterious effects on mankind. Similarly the starches in potatoes. Should we ban corn and potatoes based on these facts? Again, although I work for a great company which extrudes rigid PVC, the above are my personal opinions and may or may not be those of my employer.
Director of Research and Development
Protecting properties requires our vigilance
I read with great interest your Viewpoint article titled ``China brings flattery PN can do without'' (Aug. 28, Page 6). I didn't realize the extent to which plagiarism and copyright violation in China have extended to the print and Web-based media.
D-M-E Co. has experienced similar situations in the mold technologies arena. Vendors in China have marketed products reputed to be ``real D-M-E'' that have never seen the inside of a D-M-E facility. Lest anyone think otherwise, this practice isn't unique to China. While attending Die Mould India several years ago, I learned that an Indian company not affiliated with our own venture there was making ``genuine D-M-E'' special mold bases. In this case, our ``cease and desist'' order seems to have worked.
Given the vast potential of emerging foreign markets and the price pressures all of us face back home, sourcing and manufacturing product overseas are indispensable to running a thriving, global operation. Along the way, though, organizations need to be extremely diligent in protecting their intellectual property - and the goodwill associated with their brands.
Thanks for keeping this issue in front of the industry.
Madison Heights, Mich.