EU emergency phthalate ban renewed

Prohibition on use of six phthalates in baby toys extended for a further three months

The European Commission today confirmed that it has extended for a further three months the emergency ban on the use of phthalate softeners in PVC toys designed to be sucked or chewed by children under three. The decision, which was expected, had been approved unanimously by EU member states, the EU executive said.

First imposed in December (ENDS Daily 1 December 1999), the emergency measure was taken under the EU's general product safety directive as a stop-gap while longer-term legislative arrangements are discussed. It remains unknown whether these will be a permanent ban or limits on migration of phthalates into saliva.

Last month, EU phthalate manufacturers dropped threats of legal action over the temporary ban but claimed growing support within the Commission for migration limit-based rules rather than a permanent ban (ENDS Daily 9 February). Today, however, the Commission reiterated that suitable test methods to underpin migration limits remained unavailable. "In the absence of new relevant scientific risk evaluation data" and without "migration test methods suitable for enforcement," it was necessary to maintain the emergency ban, it said.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111.

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