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How PVC pipes contribute to thyroid, breast, prostate cancer cases in Nigeria

A report from a coalition of U.S. environmental advocacy groups has warned of the health risks of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and urged public officials against using the material in community drinking water pipes.

In the average Nigerian house, PVC plastics pipe water into every area of the home and the rigid PVC pipes also have wide variety of uses in fields like city/town/rural water supply scheme, spray irrigation, deep tube well schemes and land drainage schemes.

Yet, healthcare givers warn that PVC is made with vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.

According to researchers, endocrine disruptors or endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment that can interfere with the actions of hormones in our bodies. Through a number of mechanisms, endocrine disruptors have been linked to several cancers, including those of the thyroid, breast, and prostate.

PVC pipes
PVC pipes

Compared to lead pipes, PVC pipes are relatively low cost and have become a popular option for water pipes and other uses in Nigeria.

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US-based nonprofit environmental group, Beyond Plastics, released the report Tuesday along with two other nonprofit environmental advocacy groups: Environmental Health Sciences and the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Compared to lead pipes, PVC pipes are relatively cheap, but PVC is made with vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor

President of Beyond Plastics, Judith Enck, said the report raises legitimate concerns about the health consequences from chemicals in PVC pipes leaking into the drinking water.

Instead of PVC or CPVC – chlorinated polyvinyl chloride – Enck said, communities should use safer alternatives like stainless steel or copper, even if those materials cost more.

The global PVC pipe market is on the rise, fueled in part by the increasing demand for PVC pipes in water, sewage and irrigation projects, according to several industry trend reports.

In addition to highlighting the health risks from PVC chemicals leaking into the water supply, the report noted the health and environmental consequences involved in the production of vinyl chloride used to make PVC.

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