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Toxic Toys Press Release

  SEPTEMBER 17, 1997
  *** Video and still photos available ***
  NEW YORK, Sept. 17 --- Greenpeace today released the results of a
  scientific study showing that toys made of soft polyvinyl chloride
  (PVC), or vinyl, contain toxic chemicals that can leach when chewed or
  sucked on by children.
  The tests were conducted on 63 PVC toys from the United States and 16
  other countries, which are designed to be put in young childrens'
  mouths, such as teething rings. All of the toys contained between 10
  and 40 percent by weight of toxic chemical additives used to make the
  toys soft and flexible.  These softeners belong to a group of
  chemicals called phthalates and are known to leak from PVC products
  during use, especially when pressure is applied, such as when a small
  child sucks or chews on a PVC teething ring.
  The dominant chemical found in the tested toys is toxic when ingested
  by animals, with health effects ranging from tumors and liver and
  kidney damage to reproductive abnormalities. Several of the softeners
  have been identified as possessing the ability to disrupt the hormone
  system, a phenomenon known as endocrine disruption.
  "The toy industry is unnecessarily putting small children at risk
  during one of the most vulnerable periods of their development," said
  Dr. David Santillo of Exeter University in the UK, and staff scientist
  for Greenpeace International.  "When children suck and chew on soft
  PVC toys, it is similar to squeezing a sponge.  Water comes out of the
  sponge, just as the hazardous softeners can come out of the toys."
  Based on recent testing, the Danish and Dutch governments are now
  taking action to reduce the risk to children posed by  the possible
  leaching of soft vinyl toys. The Italian company Chicco voluntarily
  withdrew three teething rings from the market in Denmark, Sweden,
  Spain, Italy, Greece and Argentina. Several major European toy
  retailers have removed soft PVC toys for small children from their
  Greenpeace also released a "shopping list" of specific toys and
  non-PVC alternatives by brand name to guide parents and consumers in
  the 100 days before Christmas.  "Until today, parents have not been
  informed about the potential hazards of PVC toys," said Lisa Finaldi,
  Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner.  "It is negligent to label
  vinyl children's toys `non-toxic' when they contain chemicals that
  require warning labels in laboratories.  We encourage all families to
  play safe by avoiding PVC toys."  Greenpeace is calling on toy
  manufacturers and retailers to eliminate PVC toys from their product
  Spurred by a 1996 Consumer Product Safety Commission warning on lead
  poisoning hazards from vinyl miniblinds, Greenpeace began an
  investigation of PVC products and their additives. Greenpeace first
  alerted the toy industry to the issue in August  1996 and met with its
  trade association, the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI).
   ICTI chose not to take any action, so Greenpeace decided to directly
  warn the public of the potential hazards of PVC toys.
  PVC is the most environmentally damaging plastic throughout its
  lifecycle, from its production to use to its inevitable disposal.  PVC
  is made from chlorine, therefore it cannot be made or burned
  (incineration or accidental fires) without creating and releasing
  highly toxic compounds such as dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals
  ever produced.
  Lisa Finaldi, Greenpeace International in NY:  908/586-4251, or Kishi
  Animashaun, US Newsdesk (202) 319-2454 Web site:
  Charlie Cray
  Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign
  847 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th floor
  Chicago, IL 60607
  Ph: (312) 563-6060 x218
  Fax: (312) 563-6099
  Note new e-mail address: Charlie.Cray@dialb.greenpeace.org