Denmark to ban hazardous chemicals in toys

Environment minister initiates national action, proposes action at EU level

Danish environment minister Svend Auken has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draft legislation to ban the use of hazardous substances in toys. He specifically referred to the use of phthalate plasticisers and heavy metals such as lead, both of which are found in toys made of PVC. Mr Auken's action follows the EPA's findings earlier this year that phthalates in some soft PVC teething rings leach from the toys at high rates when sucked (ENDS Daily 28 May). Several EU governments have since called on toy retailers to withdraw soft PVC toys and environmental group Greenpeace has mounted an intensive campaign to have all PVC toys banned (ENDS Daily 1 December). Recently, Mr Auken also pointed out that legally permitted lead levels in toys are higher than those allowed in some other applications. In a newspaper interview yesterday, Mr Auken announced that he plans to contact the European Commission to ask it to draft EU-wide legislation to ban the use of hazardous substances in toys. Mr Auken has also said he wants the Danish toy industry to consider a voluntary agreement to cease imports of toys containing hazardous substances. A spokesman for the Danish Toys Association said it has requested an early meeting with Mr Auken and EPA officials.

Follow Up:
Danish Environmental Protection Agency, tel: +45 32 66 01 00.

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