Often the most toxic toys are given to the youngest children as teethers. Soft plastic toys are softened with chemicals called phthalates. Starting in June 2011, Canada is restricting six of these phthalates by banning toys “that contain greater than allowable concentrations”.
Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq explains in Environment News Service:
Today, we are acting to make the toys and products that young Canadians use even safer. New regulations will ensure products that are imported, sold or advertised in Canada do not present a risk of phthalate exposure to children and infants.
Health Canada continues:
Phthalates may adversely affect reproduction and development. It is the amount of phthalates that leach out of the soft vinyl and migrate into the body that can be harmful. Phthalates leach out of soft vinyl during periods of sustained mouthing action (sucking and chewing) that occurs on a daily basis, and migrate into the body through the saliva.
California banned phthalates in 2007. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 limited phthalates to 0.1 percent in the United States. Prior to this there was a voluntary limit of 3% in pacifiers and teethers that began in 1986. The European Union has had similar restrictions (o.1 percent) since 1999. Since 1998, Canada has relied on a voluntary restriction on phthalate usage in products designed for teething; however, the chemical’s presence was still prevalent in children’s products. Once again, we are reminded that government restrictions are often needed to protect consumers when voluntary limits fail.
Probably the most famous and popular toy to contain phthalates is the rubber ducky. My daughter had one, and yes, it ended up in her mouth. You can get a safe rubber ducky (Dano Rubber Duck- Made in USA – BPA Free – Phthalate Free- Blue), but at this point, I just don’t trust any plastics.
What plastic chemical will they find next?
I feel the same way about plastics. Just because phthalates and BPA are in the spotlight today doesn’t mean the alternatives aren’t harboring something equally objectionable.