Sam Suds- the Movie
Phthalates are a plasticizer for vinyl or PVC; it is not chemically bound but mixed in, so it can leach out easily. It has been linked to hormonal changes, genital abnormalities, early puberty and even claims of reduced penis size. It has been banned for teethers and pacifiers for years in Canada, and President Bush ordered controls on it in the States (over the objections of Exxon and the American Chemistry Council, of course.) Now Canada has extended the ban, to any toy made or imported that can fit into a child's mouth, matching the American restrictions (although Canada has permanently banned six types of phthalates, while the American ban on three is temporary pending further study)
Canadian environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe of Environmental Law and Litigation give us the details of how:
The regulations set out how one identifies if such a product can be "placed in the mouth" of a child: if any part of the product can be brought to the child's mouth to be sucked or chewed AND if one of its dimensions (in its deflated state, where applicable) is less than 5 centimetres. Vinyl-containing products that exceed 5 cm in all dimensions or that can only be licked, are not considered a concern, as these cannot be placed in the child's mouth, and licking is not a concern regarding phthalate absorption.
Since 1998, phthalates have not been used in soft vinyl pacifiers, teethers, rattles, baby bottle nipples and other products intended to be mouthed by young children in Canada. Phthalates may, however, be found in soft vinyl children's toys and child-care articles not intended to be mouthed by young children. Given that children may suck or chew items such as vinyl bibs, school supplies or bath, squeeze or inflatable toys, Canada is enhancing its regulations to keep children safer. Other plastics used in the manufacture of children's toys and child-care articles, such as hard plastics, do not contain phthalates.
Read the full regulation here.
More on phthalates:
President Bush Says "Baby, Get That Phthalate-Filled Building Block Out Of Your Mouth!"
Exxon Blocking Toy Safety Bill That Would Ban Phthalates in Toys
Sears & Kmart Join Wal-Mart, Target In PVC Reduction Programs ...
CHEJ Launches Campaign Against "The Poison Plastic" : TreeHugger