Beware of PVC in Kids’ Rain Gear

As we enter into the autumn season, it is time to gear up for rainy weather. Before you choose a cute new raincoat for your child, let’s have a discussion about PVC in kids’ rain gear.

Why is PVC dangerous?

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) usually includes in its composition a group of chemicals called phthalates that can be found in personal care products. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, changing the reactions of hormones in the body and affecting development. Studies have proven their effect on the reproductive systems in lab animals. These effects have been seen even in very small doses. There is strong evidence that these chemicals can also affect the development of our children, leading to reproductive issues and diseases down the road.

Even phthalate-free PVC can be dangerous because of the other harmful chemicals often used in production. The Center for Health Environment and Justice lists other possible concerns with PVC. PVC may contain the following chemicals:

  • Dioxin (a known carcinogen)
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
  • Organotins
  • Lead, cadmium and other metals
  • Heat and humidity can increase the release of these chemicals

Not only is there concern about these chemicals absorbing into a child’s skin, but the chemicals are also inevitably discharged into the environment with the usual wear and tear and disposal of products.

Are any phthalates banned?

In 2009, the CPSIA (Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act), banned 3 specific phthalates for use in toys and children’s products marketed to babies under 3 years old. In 2018, 5 additional phthalates were banned in toy products marketed for use by children, with testing mandated to ensure compliance. However, rain gear is not considered “toys” and therefore is not included in this ban.

We tested our daughters for banned phthalates. See the surprising results!

PVC in kids rain gear

PVC is commonly used in children’s rain gear to provide a waterproofing layer on the fabric. Some rain gear has PVC-sealed seams while others use PVC to make colorful patterns and decals.

A study conducted by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) examined chemicals found in children’s back to school supplies. Researchers tested 4 children’s raincoats for phthalates and found that 2 out of the 4 raincoats sampled contained levels of phthalates that would be in violation of the federal bans for toys – if these products were considered toys. None of the children’s raincoats tested had labels indicating they contained phthalates.

Another study conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition used an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) to test the chemicals in children’s rain gear purchased in the Philippines including raincoats, rain boots, and umbrellas. High levels of phthalates were found in each category of rain gear.

How can I tell if my kids’ clothing has PVC? Smell the piece of clothing up close. If it smells like a new shower curtain, that is PVC. It’s a smell that you don’t want your children to breathe in. If you can detect it, they will be breathing it.

Safer alternatives

Now that you have read more about PVC in rain gear, are you ready for some safe alternatives? At Sprout, we are proud to perform extreme vetting of our products to ensure that anything we carry does not contain harmful chemicals.

Stop by one of our stores to shop our rain gear and ensure your family is ready to bring on the rainy season in safety and style!

Looking for more safe, organic clothing for your children? Shop our online clothing section.