Risks and benefits of PVC in medical applications

R. Fanelli, E. Zuccato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The safety of using PVC in the medical field has been recently challenged due to the toxic activity it allegedly exerts on exposed patients. The environmental repercussions of disposing of PVC, once its use has terminated, represent an additional point of debate, used to sustain the advisability of abolishing PVC. The reasons that have led some to request the abolition of PVC involve valid questions of principle, perhaps, but they lack a technical evaluation of the benefit-risk ratio and the possible consequences this action would have on patients and on healthcare personnel. The purpose of this paper is therefore to help bring the terms of the question back into the realm of evidence and proof, attempting to formulate a brief picture of what is known, in terms of PVC uses in the clinical field, evaluating the benefits and risks to human health and to the environment, also in relation to possible alternatives, and discussing the margins of uncertainty that emerge. Evidence supports the conclusion that PVC is an important weapon in the complex arsenal medicine has at its disposal to care for patients and cure diseases. Though its use can be considered safe, recent surveys have identified in some patients possibility of risks associated with DEHP, the principal plasticizer of PVC for medical applications. Studies are in progress to eliminate these margins of risk and increase the safety for patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalBollettino Chimico Farmaceutico
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • Benefit analysis
  • DEHP, Medical applications
  • PVC
  • Risk assessment
  • VCM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine


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