Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas that is used primarily to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is used to make plastic products ranging from pipes to packaging materials.
Workers are primarily exposed to vinyl chloride through inhalation in facilities where vinyl chloride is produced or used. Exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride around 10,000 ppm can cause a person to feel dizzy or sleepy. At around 25,000 ppm, a person may pass out. Breathing fresh air will help a person recover from these episodes. However, long-term exposure to vinyl chloride can cause serious health problems including Raynaud’s phenomenon (fingers blanch, numbness and discomfort when exposed to the cold), liver damage, liver cancer (hepatic angiosarcoma), brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.
Recovery for workers injured from exposure to vinyl chloride is more successful when the worker has been diagnosed with angiosarcoma of the liver because several studies have shown that it is causally associated with occupational exposure to vinyl chloride. While vinyl chloride exposure has been linked to other types of cancer, recovery may be prevented because it is more difficult to prove causation.