§ Mr. Flynn
To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what representations she has received concerning the health risks posed by the release of phthalate from babies' teething rings; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment she has made of the health risks posed by the release of phthalates from babies' teething rings; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) what plans she has to introduce a ban on toys containing phthalates; and if she will make a statement; 
(4) if she will list the EU countries which currently operate cautionary bans on certain plastic toys releasing phthalates when chewed; and is she will make a statement. 
[holding answers 24 June 1997): I have received no representations concerning the health risks posed by the release of phthalates from either toys or teething rings. The Department of Health has advised that there are unlikely to be any health risks to children from phthalates in such products provided that exposure does 136W not exceed the relevant Tolerable Daily Intakes (TDIs) for phthalates set by the EC Scientific Committee for Food. This advice takes account of all available information on the possible effects of phthalates, including recent studies concerning oestrogenic activity.
There is no ban on plastic toys containing phthalates applying in any of the European Union member states. I am aware, however, of some media reports about teething rings, containing phthalate plasticiser, which were removed from sales in Denmark, Spain, Greece and Italy. I am advised they were never on sale here. Trading standards departments in this country have been provided with full details of the products identified. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysed 11 PVC products sold by a variety of companies in Denmark. Three of these products produced higher levels of a specific phthalate than expected on extraction by a test apparently developed by the Danish EPA. The remaining eight items examined released no, or very small, amounts of any phthalate and were considered to be acceptable by the Danish authorities. PVC teething rings as such have not been banned.
In view of this, I have no plan to introduce a ban on toys or teething rings containing phthalate chemicals. A note reviewing the background to this issue, prepared by officials in my Department and Department of Health together with scientists at the Laboratory of the Government Chemists, has been placed in the Library of the House.