Phthalates. Hard to say but finally banned from children's soft vinyl toys as of June 2011. (For the record, it's pronounced thal-ate.) Mainly used as plasticizers, these were added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make products flexible. 'Cause who wants a square rubber ducky?
This is a giant baby step by our government when it comes to reducing Canadians' needless exposure to toxic chemicals.
It's been a long time since I babysat, but what infant doesn't grab for your car keys, or cell phone only to shove it in their mouth? (Who am I kidding? When I babysat there were no cell phones!) My point is, infants put a lot more than toys in their mouths so there's much more work to do.
Avoid phthalates in other consumer products:
- Fragrance or parfum: acts as a fixative, making scents in laundry soap, household air freshener, perfume — even baby shampoo, baby lotion or bubble bath linger. Check the ingredient list of all personal care products for fragrance/parfum and when you find it, read my ideas for safe disposal.
- DBP or dibutyl phthalate: a plasticizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle — and who hasn't seen baby girls to tweens with painted fingers and toes? Source nail polish without DBP (and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives while you're at it).
Truth is, Canada is only playing catch-up when it comes to banning phthalates in kids' toys. A similar ban in the European Union goes back a decade. Our American neighbours had theirs come into effect in 2009.
The David Suzuki Foundation wants our federal government to maintain momentum on the toxics file. Check out this CBC story about our petition asking Health Canada to protect consumers from gender bending-chemicals.
I know many of you are trying to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals by reading ingredients lists, and trying to be savvy consumers often ahead of government regulation. So how have you sourced safer products — kids' toys, cosmetics or household goods — when it comes to reducing your exposure to phthalates?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green