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Toxic Soup: dioxins in plastic toys

Amsterdam, 10 December 2018 – For some years now we have been warned that persistent organic toxins (POPs) are present in toys made from recycled plastic. Last year, the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) examined 95 Rubik’s cubes and 16 other items, such as combs and toys, from 26 countries. 90% of the examined cubes contained toxic flame retardants from casings of discarded electronic devices.

Last month, the results of a new study were published entitled Toxic Soup, Dioxins in Plastic Toys; this time nine items were examined, eight toys and one hair-slide. For the first time brominated dioxins were found in these items. All products were probably made of plastic from electronic waste containing brominated flame retardants. Brominated dioxins are hormone disrupting substances that affect. among others, the nervous system and the endocrine system and are carcinogenic. Children are particularly vulnerable.

Peter Behnisch, co-author and attached to BioDetection Systems (BSD) in Amsterdam: “We applied a biotechnological measuring method with specially grown cells that respond to dioxins. We found a surprisingly high toxic content in products made from recycled plastic. As far as we know this is the first public study that demonstrates the presence of brominated dioxins in toys for children.”

Governments aim to close the plastic chain, which involves not incinerating plastic waste, but reusing it to manufacture new products. As that chain is more closed, the risk of higher concentrations of unwanted harmful substances in new products increases. The use of harmful flame retardants is banned in the European Union, but there is no control on products imported from outside the European Union that are made from recycled plastic. The rules are less strict in other countries.

The core message of the researchers: much more stringent measures are needed to prevent toxins returning in consumer goods such as toys through recycling. Provisions of the Stockholm Convention and the Basel Convention in particular must be strengthened.

Read the summary of the study and which measures are proposed.

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