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E-M:/ Kmart to pull vinyl toys

Enviro-Mich message from marybeth@ecocenter.org (Mary Beth Doyle)

Environmentalists ask Meijer to follow suit

For Immediate Release
Contact:   Mary Beth Doyle
                Ecology Center (734) 663-2400 ext 108

Kmart Corporation has announced that it will remove vinyl teething toys,
rattles and pacifiers from its shelves within the next couple of weeks.
The Michigan-based company joins Toys R Us and Generations Toy Store in
committing to the removal of these products.

The reason for the removal is that many children's toys made of soft vinyl
plastic (or PVC) contain high levels of softeners. Concern about the
potential toxicity of the softeners has resulted in several European
countries, including Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, banning or
restricting the use of vinyl in infant toys.  Canada's public health
agency, Health Canada, has issued an advisory instructing parents and
caregivers to dispose of vinyl toys for young children.  Manufacturers such
as Gerber, Mattel and Little Tikes have agreed to phase out the use of
these toxic softeners.  However, many products containing these softeners
still remain on toy store shelves.

While Toys R Us and Kmart are pulling  direct-to-mouth infant toys
containing these potentially toxic softeners, Meijer Corporation has
decided to continue to sell the toys.  Meijer will not remove the toys from
their shelves until the Consumer Products Safety Commission says they need
to be pulled, according to John Zimmerman, Meijer spokesperson.

"We are pleased to see Kmart taking responsibility for the safety of the
products they sell, and urge Meijer to do the same," said Mary Beth Doyle
of the Ecology Center and coordinator of the 35-member Michigan
Environmental Health Coalition.  "These softeners should be tested in the
laboratory, not in our children's mouths.  As we enter this holiday season,
parents shouldn't have to worry about whether the toys they buy are safe. "

"Until we are sure these additives aren't harmful, they do not belong in
children's products,"  said Jane Vass, a nurse with  American Indian Health
and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan.  "Our children's health
should be toy distributors' number one priority."

Vinyl requires more additives than other plastics because softeners are
needed to make it flexible. In a report recently released  by Greenpeace,
vinyl toys were found to contain up to 41% by weight of the toxic softener.
These additives can migrate from vinyl products during use - meaning they
leach into the mouths of children when they are chewed or sucked.

The softener (DINP) found in the vinyl tested toys has been shown to be
toxic when ingested by animals with health effects ranging from liver and
kidney damage to reproductive abnormalities and possibly cancer. A recent
study also indicates that DINP has the capacity to weakly mimic the hormone

In 1986, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. toy
industry agreed to virtually eliminate the presence of a
similar plasticizer in children's vinyl products.  Since then DINP has
been used as a substitute without full health testing. Today a
growing number of reports by industry and government on the toxicity of
DINP have spurred demands for safe alternatives to vinyl.



Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
Ecology Center of Ann Arbor
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104

734-663-2400 ext 108
734-663-2414 (fax)

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