Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is the third most widely used thermoplastic polymer after polyethylene and polypropylene. In terms of revenue generated, it is one of the most valuable products of the chemical industry. Around the world, over 50% of PVC manufactured is used in construction. As a building material, PVC is cheap, durable, and easy to assemble. The PVC world market grew at an average rate of approximately 5% over the last few years and is expected to reach a volume of 40 million tons by the year 2016.
It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers, the most widely-used being phthalates. In this form, it is used in clothing and upholstery, and to make flexible hoses and tubing, flooring, to roofing membranes, and electrical cable insulation. It is also commonly used in figurines and in inflatable products such as waterbeds, pool toys, and inflatable structures.