PVC industry very concerned by EU decision to misuse the precautionary principle to restrict use of phthalates in toys

Brussels, 28 September 2004 – Following the decision by the EU Competitiveness Council to seek a permanent ban on the use of DBP, DEHP and BBP in all children's toys and childcare items and a ban on the use of three others - DINP, DIDP and DNOP - in toys and childcare items that can be put in the mouth by children under three years old the European PVC industry expressed its concern that political decisions are being made which misuse the precautionary principle.

DINP is by far the most common of the four phthalates included in the ban which is currently used in the production of toys and whilst there are alternatives to phthalates which could be used they have not been tested or researched nearly as thoroughly. It is therefore very concerning that the EU is forcing substitution when less is known about the alternatives than the existing substances.

DINP has undergone an EU Scientific Risk Assessment and it has been agreed that children are not at risk from the use of DINP in toys. DINP has also been investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States and it also confirmed that there is no demonstrated health risk from its use in toys. However there is an opposing view which was made by the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Eco-toxicity and the Environment in its opinion on the "Assessment of the Bioavailability of Certain Elements in Toys" which denied that there was no risk from DINP and which stated that EU policy is to give a "high priority to the protection of health of children" (EU White Paper on Environment and Health 2003).

"We take children’s health very seriously and would never support any action that would put children’s health under consideration, however phthalates have been used in toys for more than 50 years without any measurable impact on children’s health or on health in general." said Jean-Pierre de Grève, Executive Director of ECVM.

He continued: "We would like to stress that the outcome of the EU risk assessments do not justify any ban on the use of phthalates in toys. The decision to ban them is a misuse of the precautionary principle and sets a precedent which is very concerning and could result in a ban of each and every chemical in existence if this decision is applied similarly in other cases."

The European PVC industry fully supports the position of the European Council of Plasticisers and Intermediates and Cefic on this subject and whilst toys represent a very small part of PVC consumption in Europe this decision opens the door for confusion and uncertainty and could undermine health protection in Europe.