Safe play means phthalate free children’s toys.
Most of us avoid plastics if we can these days but as they’re so pervasive in our society it’s certainly not always easy and plastic items are often the cheapest option. In our last blog we looked at some of the concerns surrounding PVC toys and one of those concerns that’s continuing to cause quite a storm is a group of chemicals called phthalates.
What are phthalates?
Also known as plasticizers, phthalates are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and are found in hundreds of consumer products including cosmetics, personal care products and plastic / PVC toys, shower curtains, wallpaper and food packaging to name but some. Globally, about six million tons of plasticizers are consumed every year.
How might my child be exposed to phthalates?
You and your child can be exposed to low levels of phthalates through air, water, or food or if you use cosmetics and personal care products. More importantly children can be exposed to phthalates by chewing on soft vinyl toys or other products made with them and in general, children’s exposure to phthalates is greater than that of adults.
What are the health risks posed by phthalates
There is a huge body of conflicting evidence and research going back decades in to the effects on health of exposure to phthalates. Much of the research has focused on the effects on children and men’s health. Studies have also implicated phthalates as a possible cause or contributor to breast cancer and even controversially suggested that male reproductive development be affected.
Even more worryingly a number of recent reports including a joint report by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme suggest that exposure to phthalates may be linked to prostate cancer, diabetes, infertility, asthma, obesity, strokes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as chronic infertility, dyslexia and behavioural and learning problems in children.
So where does this leave plastic toys?
There are European and international restrictions on the use of some phthalates in children’s toys but these restrictions do not amount to an outright ban. And there are no specific labeling requirements for phthalates.
There are safer options.
Only time and more research will give us a true and accurate picture of the real effects of phthalates. In the meantime and in the face of such mounting concern and debate, at the Toadstool we intend where possible only to stock phthalate free toys and our website clearly shows which children’s and baby toys are PVC, phthalate and BPA free.
It’s one of the many reasons we’re so pleased to be stocking Plus Plus, Danish made creative building toys which tap directly in to your child’s imagination and are guaranteed to be 100% phthalates, BPA and PVC free.
Have a look at the Plus Plus and Haba Sand Pit Play ranges because we think you’ll love these safer options and we ’d love to hear your thoughts on phthalates and how best to protect our children from the unknown risks posed by them.