GREENPEACE REMOVES TOXIC TOYS

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GREENPEACE PACIFIC Suva, Fiji Islands

NEWS RELEASE December 22, 1999

FROM FIJI SHOP SHELVES

Greenpeace Pacific activists today removed PVC toys from the shelves of a Suva toy store to draw attention to unsafe toys being sold this Christmas.

A month ago Greenpeace called on the Fiji Government and relevant authorities to ban the sale of soft PVC toys for children under the age of three in Fiji. This follows growing concern about the danger of chemical softeners in the toys, and the banning of such toys in many countries.

Two days to Christmas and there is still no response from the Government. Meanwhile retailers continue to offer soft PVC toys in their stores. But the Greenpeace Pacific Toxic Toys Patrol Team today identified hazardous soft PVC toys in the MH Toyland store and pulled them off the shelves. The team also identified alternatives and provided shoppers with information about which toys were best, and which should be avoided.

"We are here to challenge the relevant authorities to do the right thing for our children and place an immediate ban on the sale of soft PVC toys for children under the age of three, says Greenpeace campaigner Maureen Penjueli. Parents and caretakers should reject toys which they suspect may contain these chemicals and return them to retailers, explaining why."

Greenpeace tests show that soft PVC toys like teethers, pacifiers, squeeze toys and inflatable toys can contain up to 40% of the culprit chemical known as phthalate. Phthalates are acids used to make toys soft and flexible, and are hazardous when ingested. These chemicals are released in dangerous quantities when soft PVC toys are sucked and chewed for extended periods by babies, particularly during teething. The effects in laboratory animals range from liver and kidney damage to reproductive abnormalities. Exposing children to these chemicals is unnecessary and easily avoided.

Earlier this month the European Union adopted an emergency ban on soft PVC teething toys based on scientific evidence which suggests that these toys present a serious and immediate risk.

"What is deemed hazardous to European children must also apply for children in Fiji," says Ms. Penjueli. "There should be no double standards in this issue. We need to protect children everywhere."

Because most toys are not labeled as containing the dangerous chemicals, it is not always easy for parents to know which ones to avoid. However anything bearing the word "VINYL", or the symbol should not be bought. Toys that smell like plastic raincoats should also be avoided. If a plastic toy is not labeled to identify what material it is made from – play safe and don’t buy – is the advice from Ms. Penjueli. "If in doubt, stick to rubber, wood and fabric toys. "

Concerned parents wishing to find out more about PVC toys can call the Greenpeace emergency line in Fiji at 312861.

A display of safe and dangerous toys is also on at the Greenpeace Pacific office, at the old Town Hall on Victoria Parade.

For more details call Maureen Penjueli or Samantha Magick in Suva, Fiji Islands at 312861.

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