What are the after-effects and the body's ability/inability to cope with acute exposure to PVC dust?

Asked by Marc McD
Suisun City, CA

For several days, I was unwittingly exposed to PVC dust while sawing and sanding pipes and fittings for a home project. I wore a mask after the first day because of tightness in my chest. I did not learn of PVC dust's toxicity till afterward. Assuming the dust is in my lungs and digestive tract, will my body be able to metabolize and flush it out, or do the PVC particles not break down? I have read about PVC dust's effects in cases of chronic exposure, but I've yet to find information about acute exposure and its effects.


David Willson

Answered by David Willson

Sebastopol, CA

Advanced Home Performance

January 31, 2012


I'll answer this as best I can. I am not a doctor although my degree is in Toxicology.

If your symptoms have persisted, I strongly suggest you do see your doctor. My understanding is that Vinyl Chloride (VC) has a low toxicity rate and is stable when ingested, meaning VC's effects are mostly mechanical and damage is caused by the inflammation associated with the sharp edges when inhaled. This may be the cause of the 'tightness' in your chest: inflammation caused by the mechanical presence of VC in your lungs. 

It is the other additives in VC that have a higher toxicological concern and have more serious side effects.

  • Not knowing what these additives are, and it's unlikely you know either, it's not possible to say how seriously these can affect you.
  • If you notice other symptoms such as tiredness or just not feeling that well, please do see your doctor and have bloodwork done may tell you whether there is an issue that needs to be dealt with.

Best of luck to you, Marc, and this is a good reminder to all of us to wear a mask.

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