The Australian agency that assesses risk from industrial chemicals says there is no indication from the data it has reviewed that suggests there should be a health concern from the use of the phthalate DINP in toys and childcare products.
“Current risk estimates do not indicate a health concern from exposure of children to DINP in toys and child care articles even at the highest (reasonable worst-case) exposure scenario considered,” said the Australian government's National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme in its assessment of diisononyl phthalate, which was issued in September. “No recommendations to public health risk management for the use of DINP in toys and child care articles are required based on the findings of this assessment.”
The issue of whether DINP can be used in the United States long-term is still unresolved, as there currently is a temporary U.S. ban on DINP in toys and child care products.
DINP was the phthalate that had been most commonly used as a plasticizer to soften the vinyl used in children's toys until the temporary ban was enacted four years ago.
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has yet to decide whether to lift or keep that ban — a decision that the agency was supposed to have made last August. CPSC said it is waiting for the Chronic Health Advisory Panel to complete its review of DINP and two other phthalates that were given temporary bans.
The current law permanently bans the sale of toys intended for children 12 or younger, or child-care articles for children 3 and under, when they contain more than 0.1 percent of any of three types of phthalates: di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, dibutyl phthalate and butyl benzyl phthalate.
The law also placed a temporary ban on any toy or child-care article that contains more than 0.1 percent of three other phthalates — DINP, diisodecyl phthalate and di-n-octyl phthalate.
Child-care articles are defined as products intended to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children three or younger, or to help them with sucking or teething. The ban only applies to items smaller than five centimetres that can be placed in a child's mouth, and or items that have parts that are smaller than five centimetres.
The six phthalates in question have been banned in the European Union since 1999 and also have been banned in Argentina, Japan, Israel and Mexico. The EU ban is narrower than the one in the US as it is restricted to mouthing toys that are about two inches or less on each side.
Most major US retailers stopped carrying toys and child-care products that contain phthalates in 2009.