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Brussels, 5 July 2005

Permanent ban of phthalates: Commission hails long-term safety for children’s toys

The ban on use of phthalates in toys will soon be permanent, keeping them free from these plastic softeners that have adverse effects on children’s health. The Commission has welcomed the European Parliament’s full support of a total ban of three phthalates, all of which have been classified as reprotoxic, in all toys and childcare articles. In addition the ban applies to three other phthalates, for which there is uncertainty as regards the risks involved, in soft PVC toys and childcare articles that can be placed in the mouth by children, as these can be released when children suck or chew on them. Phthalates had already been temporarily banned since 1999, but this ban had to be renewed regularly and Member States had adopted different legislations. The new harmonised approach for all EU Member States safeguards the internal market by establishing EU rules to replace 25 national pieces of legislation. The Council having already agreed on a common position, the directive should receive formal approval in the autumn.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “This decision will put an end to several years of uncertainty during which this issue was debated at length and different national policies emerged. There is now a more stable legal situation which will enable industry to plan in conditions of certainty.”

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, added: “Europe’s citizens expect all products sold on the EU’s internal market to be safe, but this is particularly the case for toys and childcare products.Toxic chemicals have no place in children’s toys. Our action on phthalates shows that when a risk is identified, the EU can act effectively to protect the health of its children.”

Under the directive, three phthalates, namely DEHP, DBP and BBP, which have been identified as reprotoxic, will be banned in all toys and childcare articles. DINP, DIDP and DNOP, will be banned from use in toys and childcare articles if those articles can be put in the mouth by children.


Phthalates are substances which are used as softeners in plastic materials. Concerns were identified over the potential for adverse effects to the health of children exposed to phthalates and led to Commission Decision 1999/815/EEC under the General Product Safety Directive that temporarily banned the use of six phthalates in toys and childcare articles. Since then, the temporary ban has been prolonged by the Commission on a regular basis. Member States have also implemented national measures banning the use of phthalates in toys. Discussions at the Council led to a decision to wait for the results of a series of comprehensive risk assessments conducted on these phthalates under the Existing Substances Regulation (793/93/EEC). The decision by the European Parliament was prepared following these risk assessments and having regard to the opinions of the scientific committee responsible.

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