WASHINGTON—The Swedish government told the European Commission on Sept. 11 that it is considering a ban on phthalates used in PVC toys for children under 3 years old. Sweden would be the third European nation to take that step.
The action comes about two months after the European Commission rejected taking any immediate action against vinyl toys but urged member countries to monitor phthalate levels.
Austria and Denmark already have decided to restrict phthalates, which are used as softeners in PVC toys. Sweden is not likely to make final decisions until next year, said Paul Jackson, spokesman for the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers in Brussels.
That's because Sweden will get a new Parliament later this year, and the EC is still studying the problem, he said. Greenpeace and some European government officials say there is evidence that phthalates leach when children suck on the toys.
ECVM argues that phthalates are safe, and the association wants the EC to set migration limits based on scientific evidence and to develop standard tests to measure how much migrates out, Jackson said. Soft toys are a very small market for vinyl, but the attention hurts PVC, he said, even though the concern is over phthalates, not the plastic.
Greenpeace officials praised the Swedish government for taking a precautionary approach.
``If you have an untested or untestable product but you are dealing with something that does leach or is known to be toxic ... then why would you put that in a child's mouth?'' said Rick Hind, a toxins campaigner for Greenpeace in its Washington office.
The Swedish legislation goes further than the Danish or Austrian efforts because it also would ban other chemical additives from replacing phthalates, Hind said. That would force a switch to another material, he said.
``I think it's a way for them to say, `No PVC,' without saying, `No PVC,''' Hind said.