Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

When is a toy not a toy?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-01-26

…. when it’s a toy that goes hum in the night.

Consumer Affairs Minister Craig Emerson (one of the more useful members of the KRudd government in my opinion) has announced a long-overdue "Ban on pthalates in toys" (2010-01-25) is good news – but does it go far enough – cover enough toys?

Phthalates are rather nasty compounds widely used in plastics to make them softer, and, unsurprisingly big industry has set up "information centres" such as that behave similarly to those set up by the tobacco lobby.

Sure, there is legislation around the world to limit the amounts of phthalates in things going into childrens’ mouths, whether in toys or teats, but there is a loophole in such regulations:

What about the toys applied to adult mucous membranes, not merely the mouth, where absorption into the blood is significant?  I’m thinking of those toys with soft exteriors that are often cylindrical, may be battery powered, and not used or sold in the presence of children under 18.

At least such adult toys should have a warning label… the dangers of endocrine disruption, and consequences for their recreational activities, might have particular weight for people who make great use of such toys.


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