22 March 2014

Watchdog Warns vs Toxic Phthalates in Inflatable Swimming Floats and Rings

As the entire country braces for the summer heat that is expected to reach 40 degrees celsius, a toxics watchdog cautioned consumers against buying swimming toys that may contain health-damaging chemicals called phthalates.

“As kids look forward to taking a dip in the pool or the beach during the summer break, we advise parents to avoid buying swimming toys that may pose chemical risk due to their phthalate content,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“By asserting their consumer rights to product information and product safety, parents can protect their kids from being exposed to harmful substances,” he said.

The group has expressed concern over the sale of inflatable swimming floats, rings and related toys in the market, mostly made of polyvinyl chloride plastic that may be loaded with phthalates, which are used to make PVC more flexible.

Dizon cited the market withdrawal in eight European countries of various types of swim rings because of “chemical risk” attributed to their phthalate ingredients. 

As per website of the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Dangerous Products (RAPEX), 41 notifications were filed from 2007-2013 by the governments of Cyprus,  Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Slovakia against swim rings laced with toxic phthalates.

Exposures to phthalates, which are known endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), have been  linked to a number of health problems, including deformed penises and undescended testicles, cleft palate and other developmental abnormalities, premature puberty, shorter pregnancy duration, birth defects and other  health problems.

Studies have likewise linked phthalates to asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
The European Union, the United States and even the Philippines have take action to minimize children’s exposure to phthalates in children’s products, particularly toys.

Under the Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005 A as amended in 2011, children’s toys containing over 1% of phthalates DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate), DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) and BBP (Butyl benzyl phthalate) are prohibited. 

The said DOH policy further prohibits phthalates DINP (Diisononyl phthalate), DIDP (Diisodecyl phthalate) and DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate) in excess of 1% in children’s toys that could be placed in the mouth.

“Parents can use their purchasing power to compel manufacturers to offer toys that are safe from phthalates in line with the DOH policy,” Dizon said.

To avoid exposing children to phthalates in swimming toys, the EcoWaste Coalition urges parents as consumers to:

1.  Choose for phthalate-free, non-PVC products.
2.  Read product labels; avoid those carrying plastic symbol “3” and those marked PVC or vinyl.
3.  Look for the license-to-operate number on the label, which is an indicator of compliance to DOH’s documentary requirements.  
4.  Avoid products with strong plastic chemical smell.
5.  If you have already bought the toy and is unsure if it is phthalate-free, unpack and leave the product outdoors to let some of the hazardous substances disappear.

-end-

Reference:

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/safety/rapex/alerts/main/index.cfm?event=main.search (type “swim ring” under “free text search”; search from 2005 to 2014)

doh.gov.ph/ais_public/aopdf/ao2009-0005-A.pdf

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