Toys should use less PVC - US environmental group

02 December 2009 22:23  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) went into 42% of toys tested in 2009, a percentage that an environmental group said was too high given its concerns about the plastic, according to an annual consumer guide it released on Wednesday.

The percentage has remained constant for the past three years, according to the Michigan-based Ecology Center, which released the statistics as part of its annual consumer guide to chemicals in toys.

“PVC is the worst plastic from an environmental health perspective because it creates major hazards in its manufacture, product life and disposal and can contain additives that are dangerous to human health,” the group said.

Many of the PVC products also included additives of lead, cadmium and other heavy metals, according to the organisation.

Overall, the number of toys with lead exceeding current federal limits decreased by 67% since 2007, the report said. However, 32% of toys tested still contained one or more harmful materials, including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury - a finding that should prompt immediate reform, the group said.

“We need a major overhaul of our chemicals policies immediately to start phasing out these dangerous substances,” said Jeff Gearhart, lead researcher with the group.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) did not comment directly on the research or the sentiment against PVC in toys, but said it and its member companies “want Americans to have confidence that the products they buy are safe for the uses for which they were designed”.

The ACC directed further comment to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), which downplayed the Ecology Center report, saying "tough federal standards prohibit excessive levels of substances that could be harmful or toxic and available to children".

Additionally, the TIA said that under increased testing and enforcement, recalls of toys for lead content - an additive cited by the report as frequently added to PVC - are down 84% in 2009, demonstrating "widespread compliance under the new, tougher requirements and evidence that industry efforts are paying off".

The release of the research coincided with expected testimony from federal agencies on Wednesday before the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding the need to reform the 33-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The ACC added that it supports Congress’ review of TSCA as well as measures that might be taken to improve the statute.

For more on PVC visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Ben DuBose
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