Greece to ban phthalates in soft PVC toys

Teethers immediately withdrawn from sale, toys given six-month period of grace

Greece has banned the sale of phthalate-containing soft PVC toys and baby products, it has emerged. The secretary general for consumer affairs at the Greek ministry of health, Christina Papanicolaou, told ENDS Daily today that notification of the ban was delivered yesterday to the European Commission. Under a ministerial agreement, PVC baby teethers are to be withdrawn immediately and the import or trading of all other soft PVC toys for children aged under 3 years old will be banned from the end of June. The move follows "strong pressure from public opinion" in Greece, according to Ms Papanicolaou. Toy and PVC manufacturers, which have been campaigning against EU and national restrictions on phthalate-softened toys, "did not agree" with the move, she said, but were "obliged to agree". Ms Papanicolaou said that Greece was implementing the precautionary principle "on public health grounds". The EU has so far resisted calls from environmental groups for an emergency EU-wide ban on phthalates, a group of plasticising chemical additives that can cause harm to the liver and kidneys at high doses. In July last year, the Commission agreed a recommendation to allow individual member states to ban their use unilaterally under certain conditions (ENDS Daily 1 July 1998).

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