Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment  [Printer-friendly version]
July 14, 2005


[Rachel's introduction: The ban has had mixed reactions. Consumer
organisations and NGOs are relieved while the toy industry points to
a 'misuse of the precautionary principle."]

Phthalates are widely used chemicals (clothes, PVC building materials,
medical products, cosmetics, toys, child care articles, food
packaging). In toys, they are used to soften the PVC plastics certain
toys are made of.

Phthalates are believed to be harmful to human health, causing damage
to the reproductive system and increasing the risks of allergies,
asthma and cancer. Phthalates have been temporarily banned [in the
European Union] since 1990, the ban being regularly renewed.

The situation has led to the emergence of different national policies,
thereby potentially undermining the functioning of the internal

Based on the precautionary principle, the [European] Parliament has
voted by an overwhelming majority (487 in favour, 9 against and 10
abstentions) to ban the use of three and restrict the use of another
three chemicals in plastic toys and childcare articles, without age-
limitations. "Toxic chemicals have no place in children's toys,"
commented Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos

Under the new directive: three phthalates -- DEHP, DBP and BBP -- will
be banned in all toys and childcare articles; three others -- DINP,
DIDP and DNOP -- will be banned from use in toys and childcare
articles for those articles that can be put children's mouths.

The Commission will prepare guidelines to facilitate the
implementation of these new provisions on the restrictions in toys and
childcare articles insofar as they concern the condition "which can be
placed in the mouth by children".

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