One word: Vinyl

Fetishists adore the sexy plastic polymer, but the European Commission wants it outlawed within two years.

By Chris Colin
Published April 24, 2001 7:43PM (EDT)

Some polymers never stray from the vast but unassuming plastic industry, and others make their way out into the wider world, becoming so beloved that people incorporate them into their sex lives. The European Commission now wants to outlaw one of the most popular and most dangerous of these.

Health and environmental risks could have PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic banned in Europe within two years and, according to News of the World, the imminent disappearance of vinyl, one of many PVC products, has fetishists furious.

"We would be very disappointed if they were to ban PVC. We've been selling it for 30 years and, due to customer demand, we're extending the range," a spokeswoman from Ann Summers, a sex product distributor, told News of the World.

PVC is just as popular among nonfetishists; even those who don't wear the rubbery material, or spank people with it, or like others to wear it and spank with it, know PVC from the pipes and window frames in their homes, and from the handles on their screwdrivers. The soft, plasticized version -- the sexy one -- is used for shower curtains, floor tiles and garden hoses. The PVC industry, which employs 50,000 workers, would be devastated by the ban.

Public health and environmental groups don't care -- for years they've been arguing that PVC does more damage than any other plastic, and that healthier alternatives are available.

In addition to harming ecosystems, PVC manufacturing "leads to birth defects, infertility, reproductive difficulties and developmental problems in offspring," according to Greenpeace. The group also says the product has been tied to decreased sperm counts, rising rates of certain cancers, weakened immune systems and deformities of the reproductive organs.

The fetishists have yet to formally respond to that last claim, which surely was below the belt.

Chris Colin

Chris Colin is the author most recently of "Blindsight," published by the Atavist.

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