Letter: PVC: best choice for the Dome

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The Independent Online
PVC: best choice for the Dome

Sir: In attacking the use of PVC for the Millennium Dome ("A toxic monument to a green future", 25 July), Greenpeace is again latching on to a high- profile project for its own promotional purposes .

Greenpeace has been campaigning against PVC for over a decade; however the market for PVC has more than doubled in that time. There are no legal bans on the use of PVC building products anywhere. The Department of Trade and Industry recognises the many attributes of PVC and their Technology Foresight document (March 1996) states: "PVC is perfectly safe and this is why it is used for bottles for blood transfusions, and fine-bore tubing for premature babies."

Greenpeace's Millennium Dome campaign has many similarities with their campaign to eliminate PVC from the Sydney Olympics. The Olympic campaign initially went well for Greenpeace, until a study was published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which examined the validity of Greenpeace's claims. The study concluded that: "The balance of evidence suggests that there is no alternative material to PVC in its major building product applications that has less overall effect on the environment."

The Millennium Experience Company has been careful to ensure that the best environmental option is chosen for the Dome material. Furthermore, Greenpeace has not been able to suggest a better alternative to PVC.

The specific points Peter Melchett makes about dioxins and DINP are highly misleading. As recently as 7 May 1997 Professor Christopher Rappe - a leading expert on dioxins - wrote a letter to Chemical Week highlighting the variety of sources of dioxins (eg bonfires, barbecues, etc) and asserting the negligible contribution that PVC makes to dioxins in the environment. All published scientific data on DINP shows that the material is safe; there is simply no credible scientific data to support Lord Melchett's allegations.

The Dome is not the only major national construction project where PVC is the material of choice; the new French National Stadium in Paris is under construction using a PVC-coated fabric material, similar to that to be used for the Dome.

In conclusion, why not seek the opinion of a scientific expert such as Michael Gallagher, Professor of Chemistry, University of New South Wales, who said recently "The only way you could harm anyone with PVC is to hit them over the head with a large piece. Criticism of PVC as a building material is ill-informed."

FRANCIS EVANS

Managing Director

European Vinyls Corporation (UK) Ltd

Runcorn, Cheshire

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