Photo: What the phth? Safer kids' toys just a baby step.

The rubber duck has been getting a bad rap lately, thanks to phthalates. (Credit: Paul Bevan via Flickr)

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.

Still, as a country, we are on a roll, what with Health Canada's ban of BPA in baby bottles and lead in children's jewelry.

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

January 24, 2011

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Dec 24, 2015
10:39 PM

Toy cars are good quality. Deafening toy cars is large. Particularly when you’re approximately 7 years old. So what time Mercedes-Benz handed these children new small cars to have fun with, it didn’t take extended before they in progress making screeching noise effects and attempting to crash them jointly in hopes of creating an classic toy car collision.As you’ll observe in the Unreachable Toy Car profitable below, things don’t relatively go their way. And they aren’t blissful about it. See for manually.As you can almost certainly tell, there are magnets in the two vehicles the kids were given, causing them to obtain close, but not close sufficient to make the destroy for which they were eager. Obviously, reactions to this inaccessible realism were not glad ones. Baby Toy Cars, Baby Toy Car Online, Kids Toys Cars, Remote Control Cars

Feb 01, 2011
8:09 AM

I once purchased some colorful bath toys from Wallmart. Everything was fine until I added epsom salts to the water… I was shocked to see all the colorful paint from the toys came off and was in the water and all over my kids!!! Im not sure if this was toxic, but it was kinda scary. I would always try soaking toys in bath oils and epsom salts prior to putting them in with your kids.

Jan 27, 2011
9:03 AM

I have found this site to be a great resource, allowing full disclosure of what is really going into the products we use daily, and what is then making its way into our bodies.

Check it out:

Compiled by the Environmental Working Group, it provides a searchable database by Brand, Product, or Ingredient, and will provide you with toxicity ratings for the products you are using.

Jan 25, 2011
4:55 PM

There are tons of crafts people making amazing toys out of natural wood, fabrics etc. and arts and crafts are a big hit with most kids of nearly any age. One thing that can be done is to limit the amount of toys your children have. I know mine often seem to be swimming in theirs! We’ve been systematically going through their things and donating what doesn’t get played with most, opting to keep mostly hand made things. Kids love to help around the house too and it’s a great way to share time together so that’s something we focus on as much as possible. Leaves less time for play with toys so there is less need for toys in general. Oh, and we read a lot, together and on our own, and listen to and make music. It’s easy to do without things when you are doing a lot of activities.

Jan 25, 2011
4:43 PM

William McDonough promoted the absurdity of children’s toys being made out of plastics which are made from dangerous substances in one of his lectures.


Mr. McDonough is very much the American equal to David Suzuki and I hope they work together in the future, if they haven’t already.

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