What to do about plasticizers in daycare centers



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Federal Environment Agency: Parents and educators should switch to environmentally friendly products without plasticizers

Yesterday, the environmental protection association BUND published a study according to which daycare centers in Germany are mainly contaminated with harmful plasticizer substances. After the publication of the study results, the Federal Environment Agency requests that educators and parents should pay close attention to the ingredients when buying furnishings and toys. There are a number of products on the market that do without dangerous substances. A tightening of the legal situation is not targeted. The Federal Government and the EU are of the opinion that consumers should take action themselves and look for safe alternatives.

One day after announcement of the study results of the federal government for environmental and nature conservation in Germany (BUND) parents and educators in day care centers are increasingly insecure. In the daycare study, the environmental experts found that the plasticizers (phthalates) in kindergartens are on average three times higher than UBA measurements of dust in homes. So-called plasticizers have been suspected for years of having a hormone-like effect. In numerous studies, scientists came to the conclusion that chemical softeners are responsible for a falling birth rate, malformations of the genital organs and fertility disorders in women and men. For this reason, the EU Parliament recently passed a new law banning the hormone active substance bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and toddler toys. However, this ban only targets the plasticizer BPA. Other chemicals have not yet been significantly restricted.

Plasticizers especially in the facility In the 60 German kindergartens examined, the experts at BUND provided the dangerous substance polyvinyl chloride (PVC) primarily in furnishings, floor coverings, wallpaper, gym mats, furniture upholstery and plastic tablecloths. In many cases the presence of numerous objects with polyvinyl chloride made the average load high.

Federal Environment Agency: Consumers should collect income The Federal Environment Agency now refers to the means of self-regulation in this context. Parents and nursery staff should make sure that the worrying plasticizers are included when purchasing the products. "Retailers and distributors are obliged to inform consumers on request whether a new floor covering contains worrying plasticizers. The European chemical law REACH requires retailers to provide information on ingredients from the list of particularly worrying substances within 45 days," explained the Head of the Jochen Flasbarth environmental agency: Consumers should insist on their rights and get a list of them, Flasbarth added.

Sample letters should help The Federal Environment Agency has drawn up a sample letter to help parents and educators. The letter contains a list, according to which retailers can be asked exactly about the ingredients. The trade is now more legally obliged to make binding statements about the composition of the products. If the information is refused, those affected can complain to the Federal Office.

Substances of very high concern The European Chemicals Agency ECHA has included the four most widely used and commercially most successful plasticizers in the list of "substances of very high concern". This list shows all hazardous chemicals that are scheduled for review. Further chemical substances are to be added in the future. The inclusion in the so-called candidate list obliges the corporations to provide extensive information. Not only the manufacturers are obliged to provide information, but also the importers and dealers. Accordingly, every citizen has the right to obtain precise information about certain products with plasticizers. Consumers can use this information request to control their buying behavior and resort to alternatives, but critics criticize that, firstly, many people are not familiar with this EU law and secondly, the information provided by non-experts is more likely to cause uncertainty. It would be better, according to environmental experts, if such fabrics were not used at all for children's products and furnishings for manufacturing.

How can safe products be recognized? The Federal Environment Agency emphasizes that more and more manufacturers have switched over the past few years and are now increasingly producing products without polyvinyl chloride or BPA. If you want to be on the safe side, you should pay particular attention to the “Blue Angel” or “Bio” environmental label. These goods are manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner and have been shown not to harm the health of parents and children. The only drawback: the environmentally friendly products are often more expensive than the conventional ones. And kindergartens in particular lack the necessary money to switch to clean alternatives. (sb)

Also read:
BUND: Increased plasticizer load in day care centers
Environmentalists: BPA ban completely inadequate

Image: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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