No child's play

Published: Sunday 15 August 1999

france has tightened norms on the use of chemicals in toys after studies confirmed the dangers of chemicals present in them. The government has said that buying, selling, production, import and export of a number of plastic toys containing phthalates are to be prohibited. Besides, it also imposed a ban on all plastic toys that children are likely to put in their mouths like teething rings.

France is the seventh country to ban the use of phthalates in soft toys after Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greece and Italy. Phthalates are chemicals that are added to polyvinyl chloride ( pvc ) for softening. pvc s are widely used in toys and many children have the tendency to suck them, in which case phthalates can seep through the plastic.

Environmental pressure groups like Greenpeace have been fighting for the removal of plastic toys from the shelves due to its toxicity. Emma Bonino, commissioner of European Consumer Affairs had also pushed for a European Union-wide ban on the use of phthalates in soft toys for babies and toddlers, but was rejected by other commissioners on the basis of insufficient scientific evidence to support the move.

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