France has placed a one-year ban effective from today on childcare items made from soft PVC containing phthalate softeners, the third EU country to bring into force such a restriction. In a decree, the industry ministry ordered a temporary halt to the sale, import, export and manufacture of items intended to be placed in the mouth of children under 36 months and called for the removal of all articles currently in circulation, on the grounds of public health. The move applies to objects such as teethers and dummies and has been taken after a government public hygiene advisor last month called for limits to be placed on six types of phthalate, which can migrate from softened PVC into saliva. The decree also refers to "recent scientific evaluations" pointing to the "potentially dangerous nature" of the substances and indicates that the phthalates will soon be added to an official national list of poisonous and dangerous substances. The French move comes follows the recent publication of scientific methods for testing phthalate migration levels (ENDS Daily 17 June), which led the Netherlands to decide not to introduce a similar ban. A spokesperson for Greenpeace, which is campaigning for both phthalates and, more broadly, PVC to be phased out, welcomed the French move, but called for it to be made permanent and to be extended to all children's toys. Recent research had shown that children mouth soft PVC toys not intended to be put in the mouth more than articles that are, such as teethers, he said.
Not a subscriber?
Take a free trial now to discover the critical insights and updates our coverage offers subscribers.