23 November 1999 11:52 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--The move by the European Union's emergency product safety committee to defer a decision on the banning of phthalate plasticisers in toys and childcare items was welcomed on Tuesday by the European Council of Plasticisers and Intermediates (ECPI).
David Cadogan, ECPI director, described it as a step in the right direction and said any such ban would be totally unjustified.
The emergency ban, on items intended to be put in the mouth by children under three years old, was proposed earlier this month by the European Commission but has to be approved by member states before it can be implemented.
It is understood from sources close to the member states' emergency product safety committee that concerns about the scientific basis of the Commission's move to recommend an immediate ban were a key reason why it felt unable to make an immediate decision.
The ECPI has vociferously contested the Commission's assertion that phthalate plasticisers in toys and pacifiers pose a "serious and immediate health risk" to young children. Moreover, it has pointed out that the chairman of the EU scientific committee for toxicity, ecotoxicity and the environment (CSTEE), on whose evidence the proposed ban is based, has stated publicly that his committee disagrees with the Commission's interpretation of its findings.
"For member states the only sensible decision was to wait and get further clarification from the CSTEE," said Cadogan.
The emergency safety committee is expected to discuss the issue at another meeting to be held within the next nine days. Although no new date was set, it will be held after Thursday (25 November) when the CSTEE is due to meet to review test methods for detecting phthalate migration levels. The committee plans to consider, in particular, the test methods developed by both the Dutch Health Ministry and the UK's Laboratory of the Government Chemist.
Eight EU member states, however, have already decided to restrict the use of phthalates in toys and childcare articles. They are Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden. Other EU members have relied on a 'controlled use' approach, by measuring phthalate release from toys.
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