The European Parliament voted on July 5 to prohibit the use of three phthalate plasticizers in toys and child care items and to restrict three other plasticizers throughout the European Union.
Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) are banned from all toys and child care items. And diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) are banned from toys and child care items that children can put in the mouth. According to the European Commission, DEHP, DBP, and BBP are reproductive toxicants, but the risks of the other three phthalates are uncertain.
These same phthalates had been temporarily restricted since 1999, and EU member states had adopted different regulations to carry out the temporary bans. EU nations must now pass regulations to implement the new directive.
"Our action on phthalates shows that when a risk is identified, the EU can act effectively to protect the health of its children," said European Commissioner for Health & Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou.
"Such stringent measures are unnecessary and ignore scientific risk assessments," the European Council for Plasticisers & Intermediates said in a statement. Only one of the six phthalates--DINP--is generally used in toys, ECPI points out.
A U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advisory panel concluded in 2001 that, although DINP is clearly carcinogenic to the rodent, the human risk at levels of exposure experienced by most children is negligible or nonexistent.