Emergency ban on phthalates will be in force by mid-December

The Emergencies Committee of the EU General Product Safety Directive has agreed its first-ever immediate ban. A ban on six phthalates will be applied on PVC toys designed for oral use by babies.

An emergency ban on phthalates in toys designed for ‘mouthing’ has been expected ever since EU scientists stated that current testing methods do not allow for safe levels of phthalate migration to be measured (see related story).

Two of the six phthalates to be banned, DINP and DEHP, are currently used to soften PVC in baby teethers and dummies. The other four will be banned to avoid them becoming substitutes for DINP and DEHP.

David Byrne, the EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection and Health, was pleased with the Emergencies Committee decision. “They have endorsed fully the view expressed both by the Commission and scientific experts that immediate action is necessary to protect young children,” he said. Work on a permanent ban will take approximately three years (see related story).

Phthalates that migrate from the plastic products they soften allowing for their ingestion by humans have been linked to testicular, kidney and liver damage. Eight EU member states have imposed unilateral bans.

The European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates has resisted claims that an emergency ban is necessary, arguing that research into migration testing methods is the best way forward.

Announcing the emergency ban, the EC explained its reasons for rejecting The Association of European Toys’ Manufacturers’ (TIE) offer of a voluntary ban. The EC said that it did not “consider that such a voluntary agreement could achieve the objectives of the Decision. TIE could not properly monitor the application of the agreement and /or enforce its terms. Imports from third countries through distribution channels outside the control of TIE and its partner trade organisation, would escape the application of the agreement.”

Several environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, are dismayed that the EC’s emergency ban does not apply to all toys designed for young children. Greenpeace cites research that young children ‘mouth’ toys that are not designed for oral use more than they do toys specifically marketed for oral use.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie