The technique, described in the journal Macromolecules, could lead to new generations of the common plastic polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, that are safer than the form now being used, an American Chemical Society release said Wednesday.
Manufacturers currently add large amounts of chemicals known as plasticizers to PVC to make it flexible and durable.
Plasticizers sometimes account for a full third of the weight of the finished PVC product, researchers say.
Over time these plasticizers migrate to the surface of the plastic and escape into the environment where they have been found to pose health risks.
Scientists say they've developed a method for making plasticizers permanently bond chemically to the internal structure of PVC so they will not migrate.
"This approach may open new ways to the preparation of flexible PVC with permanent plasticizer effect and zero migration," the journal article says.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).