US chemical industry fights plasticiser ban

28 September 2007 21:48  [Source: ICIS news]

By Greg Holt

BOSTON (ICIS news)--The US chemical industry is staging a grassroots campaign to prevent state and local governments from banning a plasticiser used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC), sources said Friday at the World Vinyl Forum.

The plasticiser, phthalate ester, has been unfairly demonised by environmental groups that have targeted its use in toys as a threat to children’s health, said Cynthia Davin, a toxicologist for ExxonMobil Chemical.

“Toys are an emotion subject, and mothers with disposable income are targeted by activist campaigns,” Davin said.

Phthalate ester is used to soften PVC to make such products as action figures and plastic floaties, and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed in 2003 and again in 2007 that the plasticiser is not a health risk, Davin said.

Although phthalate ester had an effect on lab rats at high doses, humans are not affected in the same way, she said.

Nonetheless, the plasticiser was banned in the European Union in 2005, although Davin said this was done for political reasons, since the European Commission’s own scientific review said phthalates pose no threat risk.

Davin said phthalate ester was banned in 2006 by the city of San Francisco without any scientific enquiry, and as a result, eight US states and New York City considered their own ban on phthalates this year.

“We formed the Phthalate Ester Panel Response to combat this trend by meeting with lawmakers and responding to (environmental activist) materials. It’s a grassroots campaign,” Davin said.

Davin said her group helped defeat legislation banning phthalates in every state except California, where a bill was approved by the legislature and currently awaits either the signature or veto from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“We’re hoping for a veto. There are actually many mom-and-pop businesses in the toy industry, and a ban would hit them very hard,” Davin said.

By: Greg Holt
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