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Re: comments on toys
A response to a few of the points you make, and IÂ’ll apologize in advance for
the length, but these are relatively important points. And you didnÂ’t
disappoint meÂ—you found a way to work a gratuitous reference to cigarettes
into the posting, no matter how obscure.
1) What are toys? Well, wires are not toys. Raincoats are not toys. Toys
R Us also sells candy, and batteries which are not toys. I think we, as
parents, have some sense of what might reasonably be repeatedly sucked, which
is the issue.
2) Phthalates. "Admitting" that phthalates are largely used in vinyl is a
little like "admitting" that most PVC goes to rigid, durable applications.
ItÂ’s a look-up exercise and not a secret. On the other hand, it is also
true that phthalates are used with some other plastics and in adhesives.
The toxicity of phthalates is low, period. Any material with a "no effect
level" for daily feeding of 500 mg/kg (nearly 1% of the diet) is low in
toxicity. Would you advise that salt, perfectly safe, be eaten at nearly 1%
of the diet? Or if it were that there would be no adverse effect?
Warning labels are designed to mark the extreme cases of exposure. What that
warning really means is donÂ’t bathe in it; it doesnÂ’t mean the slightest
contact is instantly fatal. Consider the warning on a piece of equipment not
to drive it when drowsy. It doesnÂ’t mean never drive it because you might
become drowsy while youÂ’re doing so; it means use caution when you drive it.
Scientists and citizens see warning labels, evaluate them and use their
I guess this comes down to our individual readings of precaution. Yours, I
believe, is "avoid all unnecessary risks." Mine is "avoid all significant
unnecessary risks." I suppose thereÂ’s a risk that if you step on a crack
youÂ’ll break your motherÂ’s back, but I donÂ’t obsess about what are very
slight risks. The risk from phthalates in vinyl articles is slight by my
reading, based on what is already known about these materials and the
exposure to them.
3) Lead. Your posting gets a little unfocused here, so let me reiterate.
Lead in PVC at levels of thousands of ppm may be there as a stabilizer.
Levels of hundreds of ppm are probably pigments; in the low hundreds may be
lead from the environment on the article, possibly modulated by its point of
origin. Lead and cadmium can and are used as pigments in lots of things. If
Greenpeace were interested in lead exposure it would also look for it in
places other than PVC. Since that hasnÂ’t been done, I question whether the
issue is protecting the public from lead or furthering a political goal.
That said, letÂ’s look at your examples. Will children continually suck on
the Robin tent pole? The Tweety purse? The Minnie Mouse umbrella? These
are not teething rings, Charlie.
Additionally, there is a difference between a paint, which can weather and
flake off, and a solid article. Not to be too technical, but extraction of
lead from any of these devices will be from a thin surface layer. A large
molecule like lead sulfate or lead chlorideÂ—neither of which is very
soluble--will not tend to diffuse to the surface. Continuous exposure of the
items mentioned to bright sunlight for years (as with the miniblinds) might
cause a surface dusting, but are the purse, the tent pole and the umbrella
going to be used that way, and then continually sucked?
It always comes back to the same thing. What is the route of exposure, how
much is there and what is the effect. If we were talking about
lead-stabilized teething rings, I might feel differently about it. WeÂ’re
Finally, you applaud governments that agree with you and blast those that
donÂ’t. I think the CPSC, which happens to be a pretty aggressive agency by
most standards, has done a pretty fair job on the issue despite pressure
visits from Greenpeace.
Chlorine Chemistry Council