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EU scientists, politicians differ on phthalates.

The European Union recently banned the use of a number of phthalates in children's toys, including the most commonly used one, DINP. And the EU also banned the use of DBP and some other phthalates in cosmetics. The Phthalate Esters Panel (PEP) is asking ,"Why?"

The PEP claims the ban is not on the basis of any reliable evidence that the phthalates pose a threat to humans. And now the EU agrees. For the last ten years, member state scientific institutes have been conducting rigorous risk assessments of the major phthalates under the supervision of the European Chemicals Bureau. Three final reports were published April 13, 2006. They express themselves in somewhat different ways, but are clear in their findings.

For DINP as currently used, its full report flatly states that there is "no concern" for adults, children and infants. The report explicitly covers DINP's use in toys. The full report can be found at

Diisononyl phthalate, or DINP, is the plasticizer most used for making children's vinyl toys soft, flexible and durable, and use of DINP in vinyl toys has been supported by thorough scientific reviews by government agencies on two continents.

A thorough risk assessment performed by French scientists under the aegis of the European Union's European Chemicals Bureau found no reason to impose any risk reduction rules on use of the substance, specifically including their uses in toys and childcare items. In the U.S., a six-year review by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) found no demonstrated health risk to children from playing with and mouthing vinyl toys containing DINP. And it found good reason to continue its use, stating, "If DINP is to be replaced in children's products ... the potential risks of the substitutes must be considered. Weaker or more brittle plastics might break and result in a choking hazard. Other plasticizers might not be as well studied as DINP."

Despite the overwhelming evidence testifying to DINP's benefits and safety profile, politics sometimes prevails over science. Europe has banned its use in toys, and a copycat proposal has been introduced in the California legislature.

A final report was also published on DIDP, which is a vinyl plasticizer used in flooring, wire and cable. It expressed no concerns about DIDP as it is currently used. A full version of the report is at

The findings on DBP were also crystal clear; the report found "no concern for consumers using nail polish containing DBP." Addressing a recently raised issue, the review panel also found "no concern for breast-fed babies." You can learn more about the findings: documents/-document30.pdf

"We are making these reports available to state legislators who are being lobbied to support copycat versions of EU legislation banning DINP and DBP," said Marian Stanley, manager of the Phthalates Esters Panel. "We hope they will be as pleased as we are that the EU has brought this added clarity to the issue of the safe use of phthalates."

The findings may have larger implications the European Council for Plasticizers and Intermediates, has pointed out in a news release that the risk assessments will be very helpful in relation to the new chemical regulations in Europe.
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Title Annotation:Market Focus
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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