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A Toxics-Free Future


WECF press release: Have baby and children articles become ordinary sources of exposure to EDCs?


Baby teethers: after bisphenol A and phthalates… now parabens
Have baby and children articles become ordinary sources of exposure to EDCs? 


Who doesn’t want to protect babies and children, the most vulnerable members of our societies and at same time our precious future? But yet, what to think when not a day goes on without learning that some chemicals of concern are ingredients or at least contaminants of everyday articles that infants and children put… in the mouth for example. What more striking than baby teethers containing … parabens? After bisphenol A (1) in the hard part of articles, and some phthalates in soft parts (the ones considered most at risk for human health are banned from childcare articles in the EU), a research team based in Germany (2) reveals endocrine activity of 2 out of 10 plastic baby teethers tested. This endocrine activity may be linked to the presence of certain parabens identified by the research team as contaminants of the plastics (3).
WECF is eager to see both national and European enforcement of EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) policies. In France, a Strategy adopted in 2013 makes protection of vulnerable populations from EDCs exposures one of its priorities, whereas at EU Commission level, Health and Food Safety Directorate enters a more active phase in the development of EDCs criteria (4). “We are very much concerned to realize that regularly, investigations by research teams on the presence of endocrine active substances in children articles detect EDCs in a percentage, even if limited, of articles tested: how can we hope for a healthier future if we cannot ensure that the articles made for the very purpose of babies and children are free from unwanted contaminants? Looking at baby teethers, should parents tell their children “Don’t put your teether in the mouth? Should a prevention policy not start precisely to reduce exposures of babies and children?”, questions Alexandra Caterbow, Chemicals and Health coordinator at WECF.
(1) In France, bisphenol A ban in baby bottles, valid in the EU for some years, has been complemented by the ban of BPA in baby teethers as well.
(2) Effect-directed identification of endocrine disruptors in plastic baby teethers, Elisabeth Berger et al. Journal of Applied Toxicology, May 2015
(3) The authors mention that the function of parabens in some of the tested samples is still unclear to them, intentional use in cooling gel filling the teether ring, which migrates to the plastic and may migrate out of it is the hypothesis they make.
(4) DG Health and Food Safety organizes on June 1st in Brussels a EU-wide conference to investigate a number of aspects of the future EDCs criteria, whose adoption has been delayed ever since December 2013, and announced the Joint Research Center to develop a methodology to examine 700 substances according to 3 different scenarios proposed to define EDCs.
Elisabeth Ruffinengo, Health and Advocacy Officer, WECF + 33 6 74 77 77 00