2018-19 – Raising Awareness on Health Hazards of Phthalates in Toys

In December 2018, AWHHE studied labels of 56 toys in 9 sales points in Arabkir, Nor Nork and Kentron communities in Yerevan and found out that 91% of the toys have been imported from China. In the case of 78.6% of toys, the names of the substances used in toys are not mentioned in the labels.

The project was implemented in the frame of IPEN’s Chemicals in Products (CiP) programme (https://ipen.org/site/toxics-products-overview ) with the objective understand whether consumers are informed about the composition of toys, with a particular focus on phthalates.

Similar IPEN-supported projects are taking place in Belarus, Serbia, Nepal and the Philippines. The picture is disappointing – consumers are deprived of the right to choose, because even the most basic information about what the toy is made of, what chemicals it contains is missing. Nevertheless, laboratory tests confirm the high content of toxic substances in the toys – phthalates and heavy metals.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Phthalates are used in many consumer products, including plastic and vinyl toys. Phthalates commonly enter the child’s body through chewing on soft vinyl toys or products made with phthalates; breathing dust in rooms with plastic wallpaper, or flooring that contain phthalates; touching or using products made with phthalates. Young children may have a greater risk of being exposed to phthalate particles in dust than adults because of their hand-to-mouth behaviors. 

By penetrating the organism, phthalates lead to decreased resistance of the body’s immunity; disorders of various organs: liver, kidneys, pancreas, genital organs, heart, vessels, brain (neurotoxic); fatty acne and metabolic disorders; obesity, diabetes; in women: breast, uterus and ovarian cancer (endocrine disrupting effects); in men: decrease of sperm development, infertility, cancer of the colon. In children exposure to phthalates can lead to obesity, growth and development disorders, irreversible changes in immune and nervous systems.

The project results were presented at a round table discussion on 22 February 2019.

The participants to the round table discussion came up with the following recommendations:

  • Introduce changes in “Toy Safety” in the Customs Union Technical Regulation, expand the list of restrictions or prohibitions,
  • Tighten the inspection control of toy manufacturing and importing companies
  • Mark the chemical composition of the product on the label
  • Periodically carry out an experimental control (including lab analysis) of producers and importers
  • Inform the consumers about hazardous chemicals in products