EU reports on PVC baby toys published

Scientists reject phthalate migration tests, question suitability of potential substitutes

The European Commission today confirmed that its scientific advisors have rejected two validated tests for measuring migration of the phthalate softeners from PVC toys, adding that they had said there was no way of telling whether certain substitute chemicals might be any safer.

The Commission's consumer policy directorate this afternoon published the full text of two reports by the scientific committee on toxicity, ecotoxicity and the environment (CSTEE) on its Internet site. The report on potential substitutes for phthalates - plasticisers known as citrates and adipates - says that further testing would be needed to evaluate their suitability for use in toys and that they must be assessed for risk in exactly the same way as phthalates.

Greenpeace which campaigns against all uses of PVC, today welcomed the reports and called for an immediate EU ban on PVC baby toys. The group said the reports confirmed its stance that testing leaching in order to get an acceptable maximum level was not the right approach and claimed that the products should not be sold at all. The report on substitute softeners meant that PVC should cease to be used in baby toys all together, it said. "Substituting one hazardous softener - instead of simply replacing PVC - is not the solution," the group said.

No one from either the plasticisers or toy manufacturers sector was available for comment as ENDS Daily was published today. However, the reports are certainly bad news for industry, which has claimed that the products in question - such as teething rings - pose no threat to health and that this should be possible to prove.

Thea Emmerling, spokesperson for EU consumer policy commissioner David Byrne, said it was too early to decide whether the Commission should recommend EU-wide restrictions or a ban on the sale of soft PVC toys. "Risk management is legislation and that takes some time," she told reporters. In his comments to the European Parliament during his confirmation hearing, Mr Byrne said he was convinced that the soft PVC toys issue could be a "serious risk" and said he would "get actively involved" in the issue.

Ms Emmerling acknowledged that the EU internal market currently no longer existed for soft PVC baby toys because each member state was setting its own rules on whether or not they should be allowed. Austria, Sweden, France, Greece, Denmark, Finland, Italy and non-EU member Norway have already banned such products and Germany was about to, she said.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 523 6222. References: Report on phthalate migration tests; Report on citrates and adipates.

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