Arnika discovers new children's products containing toxic phthalates

12.9.2007 - Prague

ARNIKA drew attention today to other children's products which contain hazardous phthalates (1). Their presence was discovered by tests in a mucus aspirator for nursing children, in a children´s plastic raincoat and its packaging, and in plastic beach shoes (2). Chemical analyses were made on Arnika´s request by the Institute of Testing and Certification (ITC) based in town Zlín. Head of laboratory of analytical chemistry and microbiology, Ing. Jiří Samsonek, said that legal limit for harmful substances was exceeded in case of the raincoat, its packaging and the beach shoes.

The mucus aspirator paradoxically complies with legal limits if the product is specified as a medical device. In such case it relates to the so called European Codex which concerns legislation concerning medical devices which says that this type of product can include the only kind of phthalates – „DEHP“ (diethyl-phthalate), which, however, belongs to the most hazardous substances in PVC - it is probably reprotoxic, causes congenital malformations (e.g. skeletal and ocular defects, defects of the nerves in embryo), cardiovascular problems and infertility. It also harms the kidneys and liver in which it accumulates.

„There is a paradox from the legal point of view. If this product was declared as a product for child care, it would fall within the promulgation No. 84/2001 (3) of the Czech Ministry of Health, which settles the limit of used phthalates on 0,1 % of weight. But if the product is declared as a kind of medical devices, usage of DEHP is allowed. The legislation in not unified in this,“ said Samsonek.

„It is absurd that the aspirator stayed on market though it contains DEHP phthalate in such quantities. We have made a suggestion to the Czech Trade Inspection to ban a sale of the nonconforming aspirator. We also called attention of its producer to high concentrations of chemicals in the product,“ said Jopková.

The concentration of phthalates in the tested products was between 19,9 % and 35,8 % of product´s weight. In most cases it was phthalate DEHP - di(2-ethylhexy)l phthalate. „We want to warn consumers also against usage of products in which the content of phthalates in not legally regulated.

„The reason for our concern is that child's body is the most sensitive and vulnerable to these chemicals. And phthalates can penetrate children´s bodies by many ways – per-orally, through a skin or by breathing in, and that is why these products are not suitable for them,“ Jopková explained.

The head of laboratory of analytical chemistry Ing. Samsonek confirms that presence of the toxic phthalates in children products is not an isolated case: „Number of such unhealthy products decreased after a ban of selected esthers of phthalate acid in toys and other product for children under 3 year of age. It is obvious that large companies, which check quality of their products regularly, do not face so many problems with the samples compared to those supplying goods to cheap shops which can hardly guarantee quality of their products,“ he said.

Jopková recommends to avoid PVC products completely. „If parents want to be sure that their children do not use products containing the toxic chemicals, they should choose other materials than PVC, because customers in shops have no possibility to find out which PVC product do contain hazardous chemicals or not,“ head of Arnika´s campaign explained .

Requirement not to use PVC as a material for production of toys and other products for children is one of points required by the petition „For Substitution of PVC“ (4) which has been supported by more than 5,000 people since April 2007, including significant personalities from area of science, politics and culture (5).

Supported by grant from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway within financial mechanism EEC and Norwegian financial mechanism by NROS (Foundation for Development of Civic Society). This action was also co-financed by grant provided by Prague City Hall.

(1) Phthalates or esters of phthalate acid represent group of cca 40 chemicals. They are used as additives in PVC and as softeners but are also used in cosmetics, in agriculture as insecticides or as adhesives. The use of the most hazardous kinds of phthalates was limited in production of toys and other children products and in cosmetics because of negative health effects. These six most hazardous phthalates are: di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), di-iso-decyl phthalate (DIDP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Other information about phthalates is on: http://bezjedu.arnika.org/chemicka-latka.shtml?x=1910056. The main risk related to them is in their negative impact on hormonal and reproductive systems as well as on the liver, kidneys, lungs and on the blood's condensability.

(2) Review of analysed samples:
Six products containing PVC was tested for a presence of phtalate acid esthers and in some case of 4-nonylphenol:

  • 1. Mucus aspirator for nurse-children Producer: GAMA GROUP a.s., Bought in Apothecary Husinecká 4, Prague 3
  • 2. Street shoes CHEROKEE Made in China, distributed by Tesco Stores CR, Veselská 663, Praha 9, Bought in TESCO, Shopping Nový Smíchov, Anděl, Prague 5
  • 3. Air circle for swimming Made in China, importer : Altoys cz, Průhonice – Česlice Bought in TESCO, Národní třída, Prague 1. Tested parts: circle and blow-up valve (sucker)
  • 4. Dickey SASSY with detachable coupling, with pictures Made in China, Sassy, INC, bought in Central Pacific Investments, a.s., Prague
  • 5. Plastic rain coat „Funny Frog“ with a packet Made in China, bought in Esse - Myslbekova 1180/1, Děčín, Importer Great wall group s.r.o., Štěrboholská 1404/104, Prague Tested parts – rain coat and packet
  • 6. Yellow beach shoes for children Made in China, bought in DEBENS, Mestra House, Venseslas Square, Prague 1
Product

Content of hazardous phtalates

(% of weight)
Product does comply with regulations
Mucus aspirator for nurse-children 19,9 % DEHP
yes
Street shoes CHEROKEE under detection limit yes
Air circle for swimming - valve
0,014 DBP yes
Air circle for swimming
22,7 DINP yes
Dickey SASSY with detachable coupling 0,006 DBP 0,009 DEHP yes
Rain coat 23,8 DEHP no
Rain coat - packet 20,1 DEHP no
Yellow beach shoes 35,8 DEHP no

3) Growing concern related to the hazard of increased exposition to phtalates lead to approval of EU directive No. 2005/84 on a ban of phthalates in toys and children products. Czech legislation reacted to the new EU directive by a notice No. 284/2006 which limits quantity of phtalate acid esthers (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP) in toys and children products. The notice is valid as of 6 January 2007.

(4) Czech text of petition is available on http://pvc.arnika.org/petice

(5) As of 2 August 2007 the petition „For PVC substitution“ was signed by 5,026 people including scientists, politicians and artists (nephrologist – renal specialist Karel Ševela, university professor Alžběta Jarošová, minister of education Dana Kuchtová, consultant of environment minister Dalibor Stráský, musicians Miky Ryvola, Jaroslav Samson Lenk, Hana a Petr Ulrychovi...). List of other personalities is available on http://pvc.arnika.org/petice

 


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