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Monday, February 18, 2008

Retail Outlets Phasing Out Toys Containing Toxic Plastic

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. It is plastic, commonly referred to as vinyl and according to the PVC Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health Environment and Justice (CHEJ) "PVC toxic toys often contain dangerous chemicals such as phthalates an
Today Toys"R"Us announced a new policy to reduce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, phthalates, and lead in children's and infant toys. Also in the announcement they state that by the end of 2008, juvenile products must be produced without the addition of phthalates. The announcement included the following:

* All manufacturers have been notified that by the end of 2008 juvenile products sold in any Toys“R”Us or Babies“R”Us store in the United States must be produced without the addition of phthalates that have raised concerns about infant safety.

* Additionally, as we move closer to our goal of offering PVC-free products, we have already begun replacing PVC and phthalates in juvenile products manufactured exclusively for Toys“R”Us, Inc.

Gerald L. Storch, chairman and CEO of Toys "R" Us states "We made a commitment to the world that we would push forward toy safety as a top priority. This is not the last improvement that we will put in place."

In a separate statement, Wal-Mart announced the company is also requiring suppliers to phase out phthalates in children's toys. Toys"R"Us is the latest major retailer to adopt a goal to reduce its use of PVC.

Laura Phillips, vice president and chief toy officer for Wal-Mart, says that the company is "in the season of writing orders" and needed to make the appropriate changes.

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice exists to mentor a movement to build healthier communities by empowering people to prevent harm, as per their website.

The Toy Industry Association, the manufacturers' trade group, says polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, in toys poses no safety risks, but despite those assertions, retail outlets such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and Apple, have started programs to get rid of some of the toys and other products that contain PVC.

The Europian Union has already banned use of some of these chemicals and they will be illegal in California under a law effective next year.

Toys'R'Us has joined in the list of retail giants that are implementing this new policy.

Michael Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice says, regarding Toys'R'Us joining ther list, "Toys"R"Us' new PVC-free goal is good news for our children's health, safety, and well being."

The CHEJ site tells us a bit about PVC's:
PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

There is a debate raging around PVC on whether it is or isn't actually dangerous.

In 2003, the Consumer Product Safety Commission denied a petition by environmental groups to ban PVC in toys. The commission said it didn't believe children chew on PVC toys long enough to cause harm.

The same Wall Street Jopurnal article, linked above says that in January, Ty Inc who manufactures Beanie Babies, under opressure from Illinois authorities, replaced their Jammin' Jenna dolls with another version of the design because the older version had PVC in the shows and that it tested for "quantities of lead that exceeded the state's limit for children's products under a new law."

The Center for Environmental Health also found high levels of lead in several products, including certain vinyl coolers used for storing breast-milk bottles, which is discussed in another CHEJ article.

The CHEJ press release from January 7, 2008, quotes a U.S. and Canadian study that says that the baby bottles in question "leach toxic chemicals".
Dozens of state and national environmental health organizations in the U.S. and Canada are calling for an immediate moratorium on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and other food and beverage containers, based on the results of a new study that demonstrates the toxic chemical BPA leaches from popular plastic baby bottles when heated.

The phasing out of PVC's and other dangerous chemicals are being done to meet the new federal standards that are expected from Congress after last years highly publicized millions recalls of toys because they contained excessive amounts of lead or other hazards.