Is Your IV Glass or Plastic?

Environmentalists have begun campaigning against a type of plastic by arguing that medical IV bags can leach a possibly carcinogenic chemical into ill patients. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a plastic used in countless products from shower curtains to medical devices. Environmentalists dislike it because the manufacture and incineration of PVC can cause dioxin pollution. "Plasticizers" make PVC flexible. The government classifies one such chemical, called DEHP, as a probable human carcinogen, based on studies of animals given high doses. Many of the nation's 500 million IV bags are made of PVC plastic and thus contain DEHP. The FDA has long known that some DEHP can leach from the bags into certain intravenous medicines, blood and liquid nutrition mixes. Indeed, the government does not allow drugs like the chemotherapy Taxol to be given in PVC bags.

COMMENT: Most environmental doctors have recognized this for many years. Although using glass IV bottles is certainly riskier with respect to the potential of broken glass, it is far safer to use. If you are getting IVs regularly, you will want to make certain that they are administered in glass bottles. It may be hassle for the physicians and nurses, but they are available.

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