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Plastic Toy Terror
July 06, 2005
Trevor Butterworth
Once again, incomplete reporting leads to pointless scaremongering

"I am relieved that dangerous softeners in kids' toys will now be banned," said Jill Evans, a member of the European Parliament from Wales, after a parliamentary vote on tuesday

What this actually proved was that not just Ms. Evans, but many members of the European Parliament are scientifically illiterate. Unfortunately, media accounts, such as the one that appeared in the Washington Times, failed to provide American readers with the full story on the vote to ban phthalates from children's toys: The ban was imposed even though European Union's own risk assessement in 2003 said there was no danger to children.

The BBC, while noting the contradiction between the lack of evidence and the ban, then asserted that "a study by New York's University of Rochester, published in May, found exposure to the chemicals was linked to a higher risk of genital abnormalities in baby boys."

As STATS has noted, the study said no such thing, which is not surprising given that none of the children in the study actually showed any signs of genital abnormalities. (See Media Claims Phthalates (Might) Cause Genital Defects

For the record, a similar attempt to have phthalates banned from children's toys was twice rejected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, first in 1998 and then again in 2003.