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PLAY SAFE: BUY PVC FREE

" Should babies be chewing on PVC toys? No. They are toxic chemicals. They are easily absorbed. We know they show up in children's bloodstream." - Dr. Michael McCally,Director of Community Medicine, Mt. Sinai, NY, USA

"It is unacceptable that our children are exposed to chemicals in such quantities - especially when they are so young." - Lars Carlsen, DSC,Director of Research,Department of Environmental Chemistry, National Environmental Research Institute,Denmark

PVC releases toxic chemicals: Chemicals are added to PVC to make it soft and flexible. Laboratory studies show that some of these chemicals are linked to cancer and kidney damage and may interfere with the reproductive system and development. In addition, recent testing by the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands concludes that children can ingest hazardous chemicals from PVC toys during normal use -sometimes at unacceptable levels!

Some PVC toys have already been taken off the market: The Dutch and Danish governments are urging retailers not to sell soft PVC toys. PVC toys also have been taken off the shelves in Sweden, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Greece.

But more needs to be done: Mattel, Hasbro, Playskool, Safety 1st, Gerber and Disney are just a few of the companies that still make and sell PVC toys. Please let them know your concerns about PVC toys.

PVC is used in more than toys: PVC (both soft and hard) is one of the most widely used types of plastics. It is used for packaging in cling film and bottles, for consumer products such as credit cards and records, for construction in window frames and cables, for imitation leather, and around the home in flooring, wallpaper and blinds. It is used by manufacturers for car interiors, in hospitals for medical disposables...and many, many more things.

Lifecycle poses more threats: During the production of PVC, dioxins one of the most toxic chemicals known are created and released. Over its lifetime, PVC products can leak harmful additives. And at the end of its lifetime, PVC must be either burned or buried. Burning creates and releases more dioxin and other chlorine - containing compounds that contaminate our land and waterways. Attempts to recycle PVC have proven difficult, so much of it ends up in landfills.

So many governments and businesses are going pvc free: Governments and industry are taking action to eliminate the PVC threat. The Danish, Swedish and Belgian governments are restricting PVC use. Hundreds of communities around the world are eliminating PVC in buildings. And many retailers such as IKEA and The Body Shop have committed to eliminating PVC from all their products.

SOME QUICK FACTS ABOUT PVC TOYS

ABOUT THE GREENPEACE TESTS

71 toys were purchased from 17 countries. The majority purchased (63) were PVC or had PVC sections. Phthalates comprised between 10 to 40% of the total weight of all the PVC toys. DINP was the most commonly found phthalate softnener.

KEY FACTS ABOUT SOFTENERS

Softeners are not chemically bound to the PVC polymer but float around like water in a sponge. It has been known for 30 years that phthalates leach from soft PVC. Over 90% of phthalates are used in PVC production. Phthalates are global pollutants - they are found everywhere from Antarctic sediment to air over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Independent laboratory studies on DINP show: damage to the liver and kidney in some cases, effects on the reproductive tract, increased incidence of certain forms of cancer and diverse effects on development and metabolism. Recently DINP has been found to be weakly estrogenic in some cases. The hormone system in animals, including humans, is highly sensitive working at parts per trillion. Timing of exposure is also critical. Suspected effects of endocrine disruption include: abnormalities to reproductive system reduce and damaged sperm immune suppression reduction in cognitive abilities ; behavioural changes

INFORMATION ABOUT TOYS

  • Manufacturers do not provide information on additives in toys.
  • Of all plastics used for toys, only about 5% is PVC.
  • In 1996 GP met twice with the International Council of Toy Industries.

    Two government studies have been published showing leaching of phthalates form PVC toys:

    April 18, 1997: Danish EPA found three teething rings leaching phthalates exceeding allowable limits set by the EU for food by up to 40 times.

    July 16, 1997: Dutch Ministry of Health found total daily intake of DINP was exceeded for 5 to 50% of all babies sucking on PVC teethers.


    Written by: Greenpeace International


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