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E-M:/ CPSC on vinyl toys

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

Earlier this week, Michigan-based Kmart agreed to pull soft vinyl teething
rings and rattles from their shelves, and today another large
Michigan-based company, Meijer Corporation, agreed to do the same.

What follows is the CPSC's press release on vinyl toys for children under
three.  The Commission confirms the toxicity of the added softeners
(phthalates), and that phthalates can leach from children's toys.  While
they do not recommend banning these toys or pulling them from toy shelves,
they do recommend that manufacturers stop using phthalate softeners in the
production of toys likely to be chewed by children under three.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

 Office of Information and Public Affairs
 Washington, DC 20207

 CONTACT: Russ Rader
 December 2, 1998
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1166
 Release # 99-031

CPSC Releases Study on Phthalates in Teethers, Rattles and Other
Children's Products

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
 today released the results of a study of a chemical, diisononyl
phthalate (DINP) used to soften some plastic toys and children's
products. The study concludes that few if any children are at risk
from the chemical because the amount that they ingest does not reach
a level that would be harmful. Generally, the amount ingested does
not even come close to a harmful level. Therefore, the Commission
staff is not recommending a ban on these products.

This study is the most comprehensive evaluation of phthalates in children's
products conducted to date. However, the study identified several
areas of uncertainty where additional scientific research is needed.
As a precaution while more scientific work is done, the CPSC staff
requested industry to remove phthalates from soft rattles and
teethers. About 90 percent of manufacturers have indicated that they
have or will remove phthalates from soft rattles and teethers by
early 1999. In addition, until reformulated products are available,
major retailers have removed teethers and rattles containing
phthalates from store shelves. CPSC staff also has asked the industry
to find a substitute for phthalates in other products intended for
children under 3 years old that are likely to be mouthed or chewed.

Pacifiers and feeding bottle nipples are made of latex or silicone and do not
contain phthalates. However, one pacifier and two models of feeding
bottle nipples manufactured by the Gerber Products Company contained
a related phthalate. The Gerber pacifier and nipples that contained
phthalates are the Clear and Soft lines sold through 1998. Gerber has
stopped making these products and is removing phthalates from all
future production. Gerber has directed retailers to remove the
phthalate-containing pacifier and nipples from store shelves.
If you have one of the Gerber Clear and Soft pacifiers or nipples,
dispose of them. No other Gerber pacifiers or nipples are involved since
they do not contain phthalates.

Existing studies in laboratory animals indicate that in high doses, DINP
damages the liver, kidneys and other organs in mice and rats. Other
studies indicate that high doses may cause liver tumors in mice and
rats. However, scientists do not agree about whether the cancer risk
translates to humans. Up to now, there has been no comprehensive
study of how much phthalate can leach out of children's products. The
potential for toxic effects in humans depends on the amount of the
chemical that comes out of the products when they are mouthed or
chewed and the amount of time a child spends each day putting
these products in his or her mouth. Even though DINP may be present
in a plastic toy or children's product, it must come out in
significant amounts to pose a hazard. CPSC's study found that the
amount of DINP in a product does not relate to the amount that
leaches out.

The CPSC established a level used internationally as an acceptable daily
intake level for DINP. For a measure of safety, this level is 100
times less than the amount found not to cause any adverse health
effects in laboratory animals. CPSC scientists tested 31 different
children's products that contained DINP and found that the amount
that is released from the product when mouthed can vary widely, but
is generally well below the level that could cause harmful effects.
The CPSC used human adult volunteers to help determine how much of
the chemical is released when the plastic is chewed or sucked. Using
this data and estimating the amount of time children spend mouthing
products that may contain DINP, allowed CPSC to estimate the risk
to children. Based on this work, the CPSC study concludes that few
if any children are at risk from DINP.

CPSC data show that children under the age of one year old are the
most likely to mouth or chew soft plastic teethers, rattles or toys.
As a precaution, parents of young children who mouth these products
for long periods of time may wish to dispose of them.

The CPSC staff is taking the following steps:

1.Recommending that a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel made up of
independent scientists be formed to carry out an additional
scientific assessment of potential risk, including whether phthalates
pose a cancer risk to humans.

2.Undertaking further study to determine the amount of time that
children mouth products that could contain phthalates.

3.Continuing testing to determine the amount of phthalates released
from children's products.

The following manufacturers have stopped or will stop using phthalates
in teethers and rattles by early 1999:

Little Tikes
Mattel (Fisher-Price ARCOTOYS, Tyco Preschool)
Safety 1st
The First Years
Shelcore Toys
Hasbro (incl. Playskool) Warner Brothers Studio Stores

The following retailers have removed phthalate-containing
teethers, rattles, pacifiers, and bottle nipples from store shelves:


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public
from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of
consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous
product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's
fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's
teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through
fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine
and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and
recall information at CPSC's web site at http://www.cpsc.gov. Consumers
can report product hazards to info@cpsc.gov.



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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