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Europe Bans Chemical Use In Toys

Jul 5, 2005 | BBC News The European Parliament has voted to permanently ban the use of a group of chemicals to soften children's toys following health concerns.

Phthalates have been linked to damage to the reproductive system, and an increased risk of asthma and cancer.

They are also used in the manufacture of lubricants and solvents, and are found in cosmetics, medical equipment, paints and packaging.

A temporary ban had been in place in Europe since 1999.

PRODUCTS CONTAINING PHTHALATES

Toys
Medical equipment
Paints
Inks
Vinyl flooring
Hair sprays
Deodorants
Nail polish
Perfumes
Clingfilm
Shampoo

If children chew on toys containing phthalates they can absorb the chemicals through their mouths.

Toy manufacturers have criticised the proposed ban, pointing to an EU risk assessment that said the chemicals were safe.

However, a study by New York's University of Rochester, published in May, found exposure to the chemicals was linked to a higher risk of genital abnormalities in baby boys.

Previous research on animals had suggested phthalates may damage reproductive development by disrupting hormone levels.

John Bowis, a British Conservative MEP, said: "Nobody is going to be killed by chewing them, but potentially there is a carcinogenic threat.

"That is why, under the precautionary principle, with scientific advice, one takes action."

MEPs voted to ban the use of six types of phthalates in children's toys.

Three types were banned outright, and the others will be barred from use in toys which can be put in the mouth.

The European Commission will issue guidance on how the ban is to be implemented.

It is also to conduct a review into the use of phthalates in other products, in particular medical devices.

MEPs also approved a review into the use of fragrances in children's toys.

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