There's a hidden danger to the reborn doll-making hobby that many people are completely unaware of - toxic vinyl fumes. While no one has died from breathing in the fumes created by heating their dolls, there are reports of some artists having their livers adversely affected by it. In any case, the health of you and your family isn't something that should be jeopardized by your reborn doll hobby. If you want to keep everyone living inside your home safe and protected from toxic effects of vinyl fumes, keep reading and we'll reveal what you need to know as a doll artist.
One particular case involved a doll artist suffering who went to her general practitioner after became increasingly ill. The doctor believed she was suffering from toxic vapor poisoning and sent her to the hospital for further examination. After running several tests, the hospital found a shockingly high concentration of toxic chemicals in her liver. Because these chemicals are typically created when vinyl is heated, it was believed that her reborn doll hobby was ultimately to blame. Once she cut back on producing dolls, the toxicity in her liver began to dissipate and normalize.
Most traditional toy dolls that are transformed into reborn dolls are made out of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), or what's more commonly known as vinyl. It's made by combining ethylene and chlorine together and then processing the mixture. This creates a unique compound that's used in the production of numerous goods and products.
PVC was originally by German chemist Eugen Baumann in 1872, but never took the necessary action to protect his invention with a patent; therefore, it went unpatented for quite some time. It was until 1913 when another German chemist named Friedrich Klatte finally patented PVC. Production methods for PVC have changed and altered over the years, but it's still a combination of chloride and ethylene together in its most basic form.
Most of us are aware that plumbing pipes are made with PVC, but did you know how many other products contain it? Take a look at some of the many products made with PVC below:
- Shower curtains
- Jackets, pants and other articles of clothing
- Air-tight food storage containers
- Floor tiles
- Plastic wrap
- And much, much more...
Toxic Fumes Created By Heating a Vinyl Doll
In their original form, a typical vinyl toy doll isn't going to release any seriously-concerning toxic chemicals (at least not a lot). The fact is that all vinyl products contain volatile organic compounds (VOC) that create the distinct odor associated with vinyl (think of a new curtain). The body can process low-to-moderate amounts of VOC without any problems. However, the problem occurs when vinyl is heated above room temperature. When this occurs, hundreds of toxic chemicals are released into the air, some of which may smell while others don't.
Unless you are an experienced reborner (which I'm sure some readers are), you might be wondering why in the world anyone would be heating up their vinyl dolls anyway. Well, many artists use the Genesis brand of heat-set to give them a realistic-looking tone. It's quick, easy and creates a look that's superior compared to most other brands. As the name suggests, though, vinyl dolls with heat-set paint must be heated for it to set; otherwise, it will remain wet and runny without taking hold.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to determine exactly what chemicals are created when vinyl is heated, leading to an even greater amount of speculation and confusion on the potentially harmful side effects. Plasticizers, which are added to make it softer and more flexible, are thought to be one of the most serious issues with vinyl fumes. As vinyl is heated, hundreds of known carcinogens from these plasticizers (cause cancer) are released into the air.
Dangers of Vinyl Fume Inhalation
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPC) inhaling vinyl fumes can lead to developmental problems, liver damage and damage to the central nervous system. However, the most serious issue associated with vinyl fume inhalation is the possibility of cancer. There are hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals released when vinyl is heated. Continuously breathing in these fumes for years on end may never phase you, or it can increase your risk of developing cancer. I don't know about you, but I want to keep my cancer risk as low as possible.
Exposure to high concentrations of vinyl fumes may result in the following symptoms (short term):
Note: Just because you don't experience any of symptoms listed above doesn't mean the vinyl fumes aren't affecting you. The most concerning issue that arises from heating vinyl is the presence of cancer-causing chemicals that are released into the air you breathe. A study done by the University of Sweden showed that most of the people who work and handle PVC on a day-to-day basis didn't develop cancer until 18-34 years after they started. If this same study holds true with reborn dolls, then you may not develop cancer until several decades have passed, at which point the damage has already been done.
Can I Still Create Reborn Dolls Safely Without Worrying About Vinyl Fumes?
Having read thus far, you are probably ready to throw in the towel and quit reborning. However, you don't have to take such drastic actions to remain safe with your reborn dolls. As long as you follow some basic precautionary steps, you can continue the fun and rewarding hobby of making reborn dolls. These are things most artists should already be doing, but unfortunately they are frequently overlooked or forgotten about.
- NEVER heat your dolls in the same oven that's used for cooking food. Fumes will linger and transfer on to any food you cook in it, which is more harmful than breathing the fumes. Instead, purchase a separate convection oven and use it solely for heating reborn dolls.
- When heating a doll in the oven, turn on the fan and open up nearby windows to provide as much ventilation as possible. The more airflow you have, the less toxic fumes will build up.
- Genesis heat-set paint only needs to be heated to roughly 260-270 degrees Fahrenheit. Going higher than this increases the risk of more toxic vinyl fumes developing, so keep an eye on the temperature.
- Alternatively, you can use a heating gun instead of placing your dolls in the oven. It's a bit more time-consuming, and it doesn't heat as evenly as an oven, but some people believe they release fewer vinyl fumes.
- If you ever sand or buff the surface of your vinyl dolls, make sure you do it under a faucet of running water. Vinyl dust can be just as dangerous as fumes.
The bottom line is that we live in a world filled with contaminants and toxic pollutants. The air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat are all contaminated with some form of chemical or compound that could be considered dangerous. Thankfully, however, our livers act as natural filters to remove these chemicals.
You can walk on pins and needles all day long trying to avoid dangerous chemicals, but there's simply no way to completely block them out. It seems like every other day we are hearing about the dangers of storing food in plastic containers, eating too much tuna, drinking tap water, etc. What I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't give up a hobby, such as reborning, just because there are chemicals created when heating the vinyl. Follow the advice on this page to create a safe working environment for your reborn doll-creating hobby.