But here in the U.S., parents are sending their kids back to school with supplies laced with the chemicals.
The chemical industry has a great deal at stake in phthalates, as do pharmaceutical manufacturers [which use them to coat pills to delay digestion of medicines], cosmetics [hand lotions, nail polish, shampoos, and hair sprays], food packaging, our cars [they’re sprayed on car interiors to provide that “new car smell”], and a vast number of other consumer goods.
Now Denmark is moving ahead with a bad on four of the most widely used phthalates.
Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken has decided to ban four industrial chemicals linked to disrupting the human endocrine system, pushing Denmark ahead of the European Union which has already started a process of phasing phthalates.
Auken said she would introduce a ban this autumn on DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP phthalates.
Phthalates are chemical substances which are used to make plastic soft and more flexible. They can be found in everyday products such as rubber boots, oilcloths and vinyl flooring and have already been banned in Europe for use in children’s toys.
In deciding the ban, Auken is defying EU regulation in the area. In Spring 2013, the European Commission is due to look into further action in the area of endocrine disrupters that could lead to tougher regulation of phthalates.
Phthalates are among other things suspected of making men sterile and of pushing young girls into puberty too early.
“The Danish Environment Ministry has enough documentation so we feel now is time for action,” Auken told EurActiv.
Sending kids back to school with phthalates
The Danish announcement comes simultaneously with a new report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice revealing their findings of high levels of phthalates in back-to-school supplies sold in U.S. stores.
From their press release:
A brand new report reveals that toxic chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects that are banned in toys were found to be widespread in children’s vinyl back-to-school supplies.
Seventy-five percent of children’s school supplies tested in a laboratory had elevated levels of toxic phthalates, including popular Disney, Spiderman, and Dora branded school supplies such as vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks, 3-ring binders, raincoats, and rainboots. Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children’s Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies was released in New York City today outside of Kmart, where some of the school supplies were purchased.
“Our investigation found elevated levels of toxic phthalates widespread in children’s school supplies, including Disney and Spider-Man lunchboxes and backpacks. These dangerous chemicals manufactured by Exxon Mobil have no place in our children’s school supplies. Unfortunately, while phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, similar safeguards don’t yet exist to keep them out of lunchboxes, backpacks and other children’s school supplies. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass the Safe Chemicals Act to protect our children from toxic exposure,” says Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), author of the new report, Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children’s Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies. CHEJ collaborated on the report with the Empire State Consumer Project.
“It is disturbing that millions of young children are being exposed to these toxic chemicals with no enforcement to protect them,” said Judy Braiman of the Empire State Consumer Project, co-publisher of the report.
The full report is posted online here.