Attention All Shoppers: Toxics in Aisle 4

Press release from Environmental Defence:

December 12, 2008 – As Canadians prepare for the height of the holiday shopping season,
Environmental Defence today warned that toxic chemicals are still being
found in toys and other consumer products because the government has
failed to pass adequate consumer protection laws. 

“Canadians lack the legal protections of other industrialized countries
when it comes to toxic chemicals in everyday household items,” said Dr.
Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence.  “Until Canada
catches up, it’s ‘buyer beware.'”
Over the past year, lead has been found in several consumer products,
including children’s jewellery and other toys.  Lead is a well known
toxin that has been linked to damage to the nervous system, mental and
physical development, kidneys and the reproductive system. 

Phthalates, an endocrine disruptor (a chemical that interferes with
natural development processes) is commonly found in vinyl and other
plastic products.  Environmental Defence co-released a report in June
on phthalates and other volatile organic compounds in vinyl shower
curtains (report available for free download at ).  Phthalates had previously also been found
in soft plastic children’s toys.

Canada still allows six phthalates in kids’ toys that have been illegal
in the European Union (EU) since 1999 and will be illegal in the US, as
per a law signed by George Bush, in February 2009.  Similarly, the
toxic flame retardant known as Deca is banned for use in electronics in
the EU as of last July and remains unrestricted in its use in Canada. 

Before the recent federal election, Canada’s federal government
introduced a new consumer safety law that provided important new tools
for regulators, including the power to issue mandatory recalls. 
However, even if this new law is reintroduced and passed, Canada will
lag behind the United States and Europe in many areas, including
regulation of lead and phthalates.

“Canada will increasingly become a dumping ground for toxic toys and
consumer items that are illegal to sell in the rest of the
industrialized world unless our government acts quickly to protect the
health of Canadians,” said Smith.  “Surely Canadian children deserve
the same protection as George Bush is giving American kids?”

About Environmental Defence ( 
Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We
research solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in
order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems
nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contribution to climate

For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)

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