With 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 off-gas some 108 different chemicals, which are then breathed in and absorbed through the lungs and skin.
Phthalates in Yoga Mats
Most yoga mats have a chemical within them called phthalates which are compounds added to plastics to increase their flexibility and durability. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2000 found metabolites associated with phthalate exposure in every single of the 289 people tested, with the highest levels recorded in women of reproductive age .
This finding is particularly worrisome, as phthalates have been shown to be reproductive and developmental toxins - and may contribute to what is known as “testicular dysgenesis syndrome”: increasing incidence of birth defects of the male reproductive tract such as undescended testis, and lower sperm count . (Phthalates are believed to inhibit testosterone synthesis during the critical period of fetal development when masculine traits are beginning to form.) While a lot of attention has been focused on the “demasculation” of boys by phthalates, women are not immune to their effects. Phthalates are implicated in premature puberty in girls , and in animal studies, they appear to suppress estradiol production, prolong estrous cycles, and cause anovulation (no egg released in the cycle), a common cause of infertility . Furthermore recent studies suggest that prenatal phthalate exposure may be linked to lower birth weight in newborns  and disruptive behavior in offspring .
PVC in Yoga Mats
According to the CDC, PVC can cause damage to the liver, respiratory, central nervous and reproductive systems. The downsides of this material are known to be the release of carcinogens that endanger those who use it. In addition, the production of PVC is known to be bad for the environment and disposal is unsafe.
PVC is also at the receiving end of the nasty finger of blame for the consequences to communities where these products are made … and at the end of its life, disposed of. Chlorinated PVC has been found responsible for an increase in cancer rates where PVC production facilities are in operation. Chemical releases such as dioxin and other pollutants find their way through the air and into local drinking water. And after you dispose of your mat, it will sit in a landfill for thousands of years polluting the environment.
Exercise Upgrade #1: Non-Toxic Yoga Mat
The good news is there are healthy alternatives to toxic PVC yoga mats commonly used today. By buying a non-toxic yoga mat you are protecting your health, the health of the planet, and you’re voting ‘NO!’ to the production of toxic yoga mats. There is no place for toxic yoga mats in this world, so become part of the solution… Upgrade Your Life and get yourself a non-toxic yoga mat today!