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Understanding the Risks of PVC and DEHP


Here is some information that can help eliminate potentially toxic materials from your hospital inventory which will help you, your patients and the environment:

1) IV containers made with PVC and DEHP can have negative effects on IV medication delivery and can compromise the patient receiving the correct amount of IV medication.

2) This is due to two phenomenon:  Sorption and Leaching

What is PVC? (Polyvinyl Chloride)

(PVC) and its toxic breakdown product, DEHP, can be found throughout the hospital when patients are exposed to:

  • IV and blood bags
  • Infusion Administration sets
  • Enteral and parenteral feeding bags
  • Peritoneal dialysis bags and tubing
  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Hemodialysis


This occurs when medications do not stay in suspension, but attach to the sides of an IV bag due to the presence of PVC. The result is that the medication is not evenly distributed throughout the IV fluid and can compromise the patient getting a full or correct dose.

The following drugs adsorb to PVC medical products: 2, 3

  • Aldesleukin
  • Calcitriol
  • Carmustine
    Chlordiazepoxide HCl
  • Diazepam
  • Insulin
  • Isosorbide Dinitrate
  • Lorazepam
  • Miconazole
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Sufentanil Citrate
  • Thiopental Sodium
  • Urokinase
  • Warfarin Sodium


Leaching and Toxic Effects

Leaching is the release of DEHP from PVC containers into the medication contained in the IV bag. DEHP has been shown to produce a wide range of toxic effects, particularly in male neonates where the infant’s reproductive system can be compromised. In fact, the California EPA has identified DEHP as a reproductive toxin.

Products that exacerbate leaching:

  • Cyclosporine
  • Chlordiazepoxide HCl
  • Dosetaxel
  • Etoposide
  • Lipid Emulsions
  • Paclitaxel1
  • Teniposide

    Patient Safety

    PVC-free, DEHP-free products help protect susceptible populations: critically ill male neonates, pregnant and lactating women, pediatric patients, adolescent boys, and chemotherapy patients. Animal toxicity studies indicate that the following organs are targeted: testes, liver and kidneys. Medications, such as Taxol, exacerbate DEHP leaching.

    Environmental Safety

    The incineration of PVC products produces toxic HCl and contributes to acid rain

    • Fewer emissions - 30 times less toxic than PVC when incinerated
    • EXCEL® IV containers weigh 28%- 48% less than comparable PVC containers (both with overwrap)
    • Reduced waste saves 30% annually in landfill and disposal costs



    1 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Oncology Division. Taxol (Paclitaxel) Injection Administration, Equipment, 11/99 Equipment
    2 Chemical and Physical Compatibility of Selected Drugs in EXCEL® Container System
    3 Glass and Accumed™ IV Delivery Systems Drug Additive and Chemical Physical Compatibility Guide