22 May 2008 03:01 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Phthalates used to manufacture video game consoles could impair sexual development of children and fetuses by leaching out of the systems during normal use by children or pregnant women, Greenpeace said on Wednesday.
Phthalates are substances used to make plastics soft and bendable, and Greenpeace said in a statement on Tuesday that one specific phthalate, DEPH, found in Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 after chemical analysis of the systems “is known to interfere with sexual development in mammals: including humans and, especially, males.”
“Direct ingestion through a child placing a material containing a phthalate in the mouth is one clear route of exposure,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Casey Harrell. “In addition, because phthalates used as plasticisers will leach from a material during normal use, this will contribute to phthalates in the indoor environment and provide other potential routes of exposure.”
Harrell said the easiest way to eliminate the threat of potentially harmful phthalates in video game consoles is for their manufacturers to stop using the thermoplastic polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in the construction of the systems.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were found to contain phthalates in over 20% of the console materials, well above the European Union regulations that stipulate that children’s toys could not contain phthalate levels above 0.1%, Harrell said.
The Nintendo Wii was also examined but was found to contain only trace levels of phthalates at 0.02%.
“We are not saying that these game consoles are currently legally defined as toys, but eliminating these toxic chemicals would be in line with the spirit of the law, which is to keep known toxic materials out of direct contact with young children,” Harrell said.
Microsoft and Sony did not respond to emails and telephone messages left with their respective spokespeople on Tuesday seeking comment.
Greenpeace has successfully campaigned to ban the use of phthalates in toys in the US states of California and Washington, and a nationwide ban of the plasticisers was recently introduced in US Congress.
However, the affirmation that PVC poses widespread health risks has been ridiculed by some industry sources.
Greenpeace co-founder and former member Patrick Moore himself has said that the group’s criticism of PVC did not have any basis in scientific fact.
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