What Is Ethyl Vinyl Acetate?

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Product manufacturers use a variety of synthetic and natural chemical compounds to construct the products we use every day. Government institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are charged with the task of ensuring the safety of these compounds, both before they make their way into consumer products and as long as they are sold to and used by consumers. Therefore, there is a bevy of information available to consumers trying to evaluate the relative safety of chemical compounds used in products.

Ethyl Vinyl Acetate

  • Ethyl vinyl acetate is an acetate compound made by combining ethylene with vinyl acetate. The resulting vinyl-like material is is translucent and flexible. It is also known for its remarkable strength and resistance to tearing. These features, combined with a strong tolerance for low temperatures, make it an indispensable ingredient in many consumer products.

Uses

  • Products that may contain ethyl vinyl acetate include foam children's toys, shrink wrapping, shoe soles, disposable medical equipment, tubing, wire coating, adhesives, water-based paints, nonwoven textile fibers, textile sizings and finishes, paper coatings, inks, films, lacquers and others. Note that the use of ethyl vinyl acetate varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so not all brands of these products will contain ethyl vinyl acetate.

Possible Hazards

  • The EPA has looked closely at all vinyl acetate compounds and found the potential effects of acute exposure to include eye irritation, upper respiratory tract irritation, nasal irritation, labored breathing, lung damage, convulsions and minor acute toxicity. However, the EPA did not find sufficient evidence to consider vinyl acetate a carcinogen or to be concerned over the effects of chronic exposure. The non-profit group Healthy Child Healthy World even recommended ethyl vinyl acetate as a safer alternative to PVC since ethyl vinyl acetate does not include potentially harmful compounds such as chlorine, BPA or phthalates.

Other Considerations

  • Scientific research into the safety of consumer products is constantly ongoing, so if you are truly concerned about the safety of products containing ethyl vinyl acetate, check back regularly to the EPA and other consumer product safety groups for updated research and safety concerns.

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