Arnika warns parents against buying school things and teaching aids made of polyvinylchloride (PVC). Some of these things may contain hazardous phthalates. „Phthalates are commonly used as PVC softeners. They are used among other for production of school things such as pen cases, notebook wrappers, folders and erasers. Children often get to a close contact with these things so that chemicals can easily get in their bodies and threaten their health,“ said head of Arnika´s campaign „Don´t Play with PVC“ Ing. Miroslava Jopková.
The fact that some school aids made of PVCare really not suitable for children was also confirmed by a study (1) of the Danish Environmental Agency. Nine of 26 tested erasers were made of PVC and all contained risky phthalates – DEHP and DINP (2) in the range between 17 and 70%, and there is real risk that children put them in their mouth and swallow the chemicals together with saliva.
Information on products or enclosed in their packaging shall indicate that they contain PVC. „PVC is marked by label with triangle with either number 3 or letter „v“ and by marking „PVC“ or „V“ or „Vinyl“ bellow, but sometimes producers do not give information what chemicals is a product made of. In such cases we recommend to ask a seller or dealer or to contact the producer directly,“ said Jopková, who also pointed out insufficient legal measures: „Use of the hazardous phthalates has so far been limited in relation to production of toys and other children products (3). It is absolutely logical that this measure shall also concern school aids with which children are in contact with every day.“
(1) Svendsen N., Bjarnov E., Poulsen P. B., Force Technology. Survey as well as health assesment of chemical substances in school bags, toy bags, pencil cases and erasers. 2007. EPA. Study is available download on this link:
(2) Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) are used in PVC as softeners (e.g. in medical devices – hoses, blood bags, in soft furnishings (floor-cloth, wallpapers, then in production of plastic raincoats etc.). EU directive 67/548/EEC on classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals classifies DEHP as a substance poisonous to the reproductive system. It can cause congenital malformations, cardiovascular problems and can negatively influence the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) – Its effects on human health have not been properly analysed as in case of DEHP. However, tests on animals proved it is toxic mainly for the liver and kidneys. It is connected with creation of tumors. It has carcinogenic effect on the organisms of rodents.
(3) Growing concern related to a risk of increased exposition to phthalates resulted in approval of EU directive 2005/84 on a ban of phthalates in toys and other children products. Czech legislation reacted on the directive by approval of promulgation 284/2006 which is listing banned phthalate acid eshers (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP) in toys and product for children´s care. The promulgation is valid as of 16 January 2007.