This is a short post, but I’m hopeful to make a BIG point. I’m not a scientist, expert, or engineer, but I have researched PVC for a few years now and I swear I’m as confused today as 3 years ago. But I’m having a moment of clarity thanks to the Greenpeace website and want to share before my clarity is gone. I’ve long struggled with the fact I gave my boys soft plastic toys to play with in the bathtub and worse…I gave these same toys to my girls when their teething was really bad. Where did I get them from? I written about this before – the gift shop from my city’s aquarium. Did I assume they were anything other than dollar store type toys for them to play with? No, but my boys loved the shark, dolphin, sea life designs and I thought they’d make awesome bath toys. Well fast forward a couple of years and I get upset because I realize they soft plastic toys were toxic. Not just a little toxic, but made with PVC plastic that leach phthalates. To hear the history behind all this – you can read this post.
Well – two years later, today actually, I visit my local aquarium again with my beautiful kids. They have really made some great changes with carrying Under The Nile (organic cotton) toys, etc. but I notice those damn plastic toys again. You know the kind…the soft plastic dolphin that squeaks when you squeeze it. But now the package has a sticker on it labeled ‘phthalate free’. I guess with phthalates being the next new buzz word among green parents (next to BPA) that enough would be said. Although I’m still confused. The price on these toys is still inexpensive, the toy is made from bendy plastic, but they are phthalate free? Here is what I’m going to say. Unless a soft plastic toy ~ that may end up in a child’s mouth or bathtub is labeled PVC-free, don’t buy it. If a toy is produced from PVC – it doesn’t matter if it’s phthalate-free, an additive (chemical) has been added to soften it otherwise it would be brittle/hard plastic. Just as dangerous because phthalates are just one class of chemicals. I’m sure I’ll get a call from the aquarium telling me that the toy is PVC-free. I say prove it first. If a company is going through all the expense to not use PVC – they would market that fact and tag the product as such. I’m done wasting my time trying to contact manufacturers and big box stores (hello Toys R Us!) to ask them if they use PVC in the products they sell. I know they do and they know they do. Now here is the quote that gave me clarity. Thank you Greenpeace!!
The emerging science on the hazards of plasticizers used in soft PVC products provides substantive evidence that soft PVC presents unacceptable risks during use. Additives, such as plasticizers and stabilizers, are a necessary component of all PVC formulations. Without these additives, PVC is brittle, degrades easily, and is unversatile. Softeners are not chemically bound to the PVC polymer, but rather float around the polymer, like water in a sponge, giving the plastic the flexibility required. As a result, it is evident that plasticizers used in PVC will leach, volatilize, or migrate from a product over time. This has long been recognized by the PVC industry itself. Pressure on a PVC product will increase leaching substantially. Of most concern is the leaching of plasticizers resulting from sucking or chewing on soft PVC toys, representing a direct bodily dose of these chemicals to the infant or child.
Read more of this article here. Greenpeace has excellent information on PVC and phthalates – I’m very grateful for their research. Seriously – why isn’t the government mandating that any stores selling PVC products to children be closed? Doing phase out strategies is not working….toys are just being shuffled around to countries that are/aren’t regulating it. We are North America for god’s sake! This shouldn’t be another problem parents need to educate themselves with. Uh oh…rant coming on. I’ll stop and just encourage you to push and ask questions. Let’s get to the bottom of what plastic surrounds our children and finally get PVC away from them!