Reassurances on phthalates fail to convince

Exposure to phthalate plasticisers used in PVC toys and teething rings is unlikely to pose health risks to children, according to a Government statement issued in July in response to an official study in Denmark. But the Government's handling of the issue has raised renewed questions about its approach to scientific uncertainty and use of information from business interests.

The Government's statement was a response to the withdrawal of three brands of PVC teething ring from sale in Denmark, Spain, Greece and Italy after a study sponsored by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of phthalates leaching from them. All three were made by an Italian company, Chicco. Eight other products leached little or no phthalates. Two major retailers in Denmark and Sweden reacted by withdrawing soft PVC toys from their shelves (ENDS Report 268, p 30).

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