Polyvinyl Chloride - Its Risk Potential in the Hospital

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A potential risk management problem for hospitals is the thermal degradation of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is a synthetic, plastic, polymer wire insulating material which releases hydrogen chloride (HC1) gas when it is thermally degraded. Inhalation of HC1, either as a gas or in combination with water vapor, is irritating to all mucous membranes. Thermal degradation of 25 feet of PVC wire yields 1.4 mg HC1/L, which is 70 times greater than the recommended maximum concentration. Because of the potential risks, there is an immediate need to develop a safe, economical substitute for PVC.

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