22 May 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition commended a popular chain store for removing a childcare product that has been found to contain a banned plastic chemical.
“We laud MR. D.I.Y. for heeding our request for action to protect babies from being exposed to a hazardous plastic chemical banned in child care articles,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
The group had earlier notified the chain store that the white polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic sheet of the MR. D.I.Y. Plastic Baby Bib was found to contain di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) measured at 86,700 parts per million (ppm) as per laboratory analysis.
“To prevent a child’s exposure to DEHP, we respectfully request the management of MR. D.I.Y. to immediately stop the sale of MR. D.I.Y. PVC Plastic Baby Bibs and to return the remaining stocks to their supplier for environmentally sound disposal,” the group wrote. “MR. D.I.Y.’s customers who have bought the said bibs will surely appreciate getting a refund or having the toxic bibs in question replaced with safer bibs,” it further said.
DEHP belongs to a family of industrial chemicals called phthalates, which are added to some plastics like PVC to make them flexible and soft. DEHP, an endocrine-disrupting chemical or EDC, is known to cause cancer in animals.
As explained by environmental health specialist Dr. Geminn Louis Apostol of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, “Exposure to phthalates and other EDCs even in tiny amounts can disrupt the essential functions of the endocrine system and lead to hormonal imbalances, which may result in reduced intellectual capacity, reproductive disorders, weakened immune system, and other behavioral and health issues.”
The US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) bans DEHP in concentrations greater than 0.1 % or 1,000 ppm in children’s toys and childcare articles. Aside from bibs, other childcare articles covered by the ban include children’s infant and toddler bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups, sleepwear, teethers.
DEHP, along with five other phthalates, in concentrations above 0.1% is also banned in children’s toys as per the Department of Health Administrative Order No. 2009-0005-A as amended in 2011.
Aside from the plastic baby bib, laboratory tests also detected banned phthalates in other childcare articles purchased by the EcoWaste Coalition from other retailers, including the plastic lining of reusable baby panty with 14.3 percent DEHP and a baby diaper changing mat with 8.62 percent diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and 0.325 percent DEHP.
The EcoWaste Coalition is pushing for an expanded ban on toxic phthalates in all children’s goods such as toys, baby products, school supplies, and the like.
“Strengthened and expanded regulations, including chemical ingredient transparency, are needed to protect fetuses and children from phthalates and other EDCs in products and the environment,” the group said.