squeaky toy, soft ball and play chair have in common? Answer: toxic phthalates.
Phthalates, which are industrial chemicals often used to soften polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) plastic and are linked to reproductive and developmental health
problems, were detected in some toy samples in violation of Philippine, US and EU
The EcoWaste Coalition reported that four of the five toy samples it purchased
from legitimate retail outlets and sent to a private laboratory for analysis
contained certain phthalates above the allowable maximum concentrations of 0.1
percent as stipulated in relevant regulations of the European Union, the United
States and the Philippines.
The EU Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH)
1907/2006, the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the
Philippine Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005-A prohibit three
types of phthalates
for use in children’s toys such as di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl
phthalate (DBP) and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and further prohibit the use
of three other phthalates such as diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl
phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in toys that can be placed in
a child’s mouth.
Phthalates from the five samples were extracted and analyzed in Taiwan by SGS,
a global testing company, using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) as
required in the “Standard Operating Procedure for Determination of Phthalates”
of the US Consumer Product
Laboratory test results showed that:
1. A green vinyl frog from a pack of five squeaky animal toys obtained
for P50 had 34.5%
DINP and 0.295% DIDP;
2. A “Spence” soft ball from a pack of four vinyl balls procured for P129.75
had 7.08% DEHP and 0.284% DINP.
3. A “Funny Toys” kiddie boxing gloves made of vinyl with “SpongeBob
Squarepants” design purchased for P33 had 6.75 % DEHP; and
4. An unlabeled yellow play chair with “Winnie the Pooh” vinyl seat
bought for P179.75 had 1.5% DEHP.
“Based on the lab test results, we call upon the government and the industry,
including toy retailers, to immediately order the removal of these toys off the
store shelves, to prevent harm to children’s health,” said Thony Dizon,
Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project
“As we have just scratched the surface, we request our health authorities to
search for more phthalate-contaminated toys in the local market and have them
recalled at once,” he added.
Citing data from the EU rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products,
Dizon said that since 2010 European governments have withdrawn some 483 toy
products from the market, including 124 toys recalled in 2013, for violating
the REACH regulation on phthalates.
“Consumer safety-conscious retailers should stop selling PVC toys. They should further demand that toy manufacturers,
importers and distributors test their toy products for phthalates and other chemicals
of concern, and to fully disclose such information on the product labels and
the companies’ websites,” he emphasized.
According to the Endocrine Society, phthalates are primarily used as plasticizers
in the manufacture of flexible vinyl plastic which, in turn, is used in
consumer products, flooring, and wall coverings, food contact applications,
medical devices and personal-care products (e. g ., perfumes, lotions,
“Human exposure to phthalates is widespread and occurs through ingestion,
inhalation, and dermal contact,” said the Endocrine Society, the world’s
oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones
and the clinical practice of endocrinology.
Phthalates are believed to alter hormonal functions and are classified as among
the endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
Scientific studies have linked phthalate exposures to reproductive and development
health issues such as deformed penises, undescended testicles, precocious
puberty, infertility, shorter pregnancy duration and birth defects.
Studies have likewise linked phthalates to asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
According to Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005-A as amended
in December 2011, “it shall be unlawful to manufacture for sale, offer for
sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toy
that contains concentration of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl)
phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).”
The same directive prohibits three more types of phthalates in “any children’s
toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth that contains concentrations of more
than 0.1 percent).”