WASHINGTON - Greenpeace asked federal product safety regulators June 6 to issue a formal warning to manufacturers not to use vinyl in household products.
The environmental group based its request on a study it released that said children are being ``needlessly exposed to hazardous and inadequately tested'' phthalates and organotins in vinyl products such as crib rails, flooring, and mattress pads.
Vinyl Institute spokesman Allen Blakey said the report is misleading because government and industry studies have shown that phthalates are safe. The organotins used as stabilizers by the vinyl industry are not harmful, he said.
``The recent Greenpeace tests found that some of the highest levels of phthalates were found in products specifically designed for children's mouths,'' the environmental group said in a June 6 letter to Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairwoman Ann Brown.
The group said some products contained levels of phthalates above a 3 percent voluntary industry cap for teethers. Those products include stroller covers, handbags and hats that, while not specifically toys like teethers, are likely to be mouthed by children, Greenpeace said.
``That is unacceptable'' because alternatives are readily available, said Rick Hind, legislative director for Greenpeace's toxics campaign.
CPSC in 1998 reached an agreement with several toy makers and retailers not to use diisononyl phthalate in teethers, but the Greenpeace study found that one teether it tested this year, a General Mills Cheerios teether, was made up of 28 percent DINP. General Mills was not part of that 1998 agreement, and company officials could not be reached.
Hind said Greenpeace does not think voluntary approaches work.
A CPSC spokesman said the agency took voluntary action in 1998 because it could not find any evidence of harm from children's exposure to phthalates. The report said the amount of phthalates that may leach out of a product is not related to the amount in the item, the spokesman said.
CPSC officials said they are waiting to complete their review of DINP in toys before responding to Greenpeace. That review could be released this month, the spokesman said.