Avoid Toxic Yoga Mats Containing PVC

Yoga mats may contain this toxic plastic chemical that may be carcinogenic.

With this increased interest in yoga also comes an increase in the numbers of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) yoga mats sold across the country. Completely at odds with the yoga philosophy of a healthy planet, PVC yoga mats harbor some serious health consequences. PVC products give off some 108 different chemicals within the first 28 days of use … that new car smell that many of us find pleasant is the first sign of all those nasty chemicals going into your lungs and skin. Hello, aromatherapy anyone? Many mats are made from polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, which is widely considered one of the most toxic plastics. The main ingredient in PVC is vinyl chloride, which is a known carcinogen. And dioxins are byproducts of its manufacturing. More plasticizers are then added to make the mats soft and they come with additional phthalates, used in a wide variety of personal care products in the U.S., though banned in the EU. Phthalates are known for causing developmental issues and cancer.

These toxins not only pose risks for those innocently saluting the sun on their mat, but those that produce the mats are constantly in contact with these dangerous chemicals. And PVC does not biodegrade so it will sit in a landfill until long after your yoga days have passed. PVC itself does not biodegrade, and it remains on the shelf, in the environment, or in the landfill. Sometimes landfills catch on fire, and then the PVC releases dioxin, hydrochloric acid, and other toxins. PVC is extremely difficult to recycle, which is why so little of it is recaptured. Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, the Center for Environmental Health, Green Sangha, the International Firefighters’ Association, and the Plastics Recycling Coalition are all working to phase out PVC or to minimize its use.

If you are looking for PVC free yoga mats one company that has its feet firmly planted on the ground is Seattle, Washington- based Barefoot Yoga Co. They offer the Original Eco Yoga Mat … the yoga mat that was rated #1 by New York Times for environmentally friendly yoga mats. But the affordable Eco Mat contains a small amount of latex, so for those with latex allergies, try rawganique, the eco-apparel company. Besides their full line of hemp-based clothing, they also offer hemp-based bed, bath, bodycare and homecare ranges … including a sweet deal on a hemp mat/natural rubber combo. It’s true that natural rubber yoga mats are natural, sustainable, practical and safer than PVC yoga mats. Place a hemp mat on top of a rubber mat and you substantially reduce that nasty rubbery smell and help save the plant … one posture at a time. Or go with a natural rubber and jute mat and you have a biodegradable eco solution.

The Manduka PRO Series is known as the Taj Mahal of yoga mats, the most sustainable mat on the market for 10+ years. Made of an eco-certified PVC material and manufactured emissions free, this mat is a durable eco-friendly choice. The surface texture is a fabric-like finish that is slip resistant, even when wet from light perspiration. Manduka PRO mats are the thickest densest mats on the market designed to provide extra cushion for comfort and joint support. Backed with a Lifetime Guarantee, The PRO Series is designed to last a lifetime or two.

Phthalates are a group of man made chemicals that are widely used as plastic softeners and in hairsprays, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, shower curtains, wood finishes, lubricants and more.

Over 1 billion pounds of this substance is produced worldwide each year. Why there is so much concern about this substance is that animal studies have shown that the chemicals contained in phthalates can cause harm in a variety of ways, from organ damage to immune suppression and cancer. Other studies have shown that phthalates can damage the liver, the kidney and the reproductive organs.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people have higher levels of certain phthalates in their systems than was previously thought. Not only can humans digest this toxic stuff but they can also be exposed to its harm through skin contact. A big question that many ask is how and where are we being exposed to these chemicals? Reports have been released indicating that women between the ages of 20 to 40 years have higher levels of dibutyl-phthalate (DBP) in their bodies than anyone else. DBP is apparently used in cosmetics, toys, flooring, adhesives, wallpaper, furniture and shower curtains. So it would appear that since women in that age group use cosmetics and other personal care products that contain this substance, they are being exposed more than anyone else.

Other Means of Human Exposure


Many teethers and soft toys contain phthalates and research has shown that platicisers like phthalate can leach out of toys into the mouths of children who chew them.

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