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Phthalates are chemicals that are often used as softeners of plastics and are used in a large variety of products such as waxes, paints, printing inks and textiles. They can also be in the oily substances in perfumes, or used as additives to hairsprays and lubricants. Studies show that phthalates can disrupt the endocrine system, produce adverse reproductive effects and some have also linked them to liver cancer. Considerable quantities of phthalates can be released under stimulated mouthing conditions, which would be hazardous to young children particularly below 3 years of age. As a result of this the European Union has banned phthalates in some children’s products. According to the REACH Directive the phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBP are prohibited in all toys and childcare articles at levels of over 0.1%, while phthalates DINP, DIDP and DNOP are prohibited in toys or childcare articles that can be placed in the mouth by children again at levels of over 0.1%. RAPEX, the EU Rapid alert system for dangerous non-food consumer products, has recently revealed an item intended for children ‘Braiding strands consisting of transparent, colourless plastic with a round cross-section, containing textile cords in the inner cavity in various neon colours, in some cases metallic Lurex yarns.’ which contained 7.5% by weight of DEHP, massively above the legal limit allowed by Reach and poses a risk to children who came into contact with it. The items have since been voluntarily withdrawn from the market place. The Laboratory at The Birmingham Assay Office is UKAS accredited to carry out Phthalates testing and can offer a fast turnaround time to help ensure that products are below the legal limit and safe for the market place. For further information on Phthalates or any other testing matters please contact Steve Franklin on testing@theassayoffice.co.uk or 0871 871 6020. [caption id="attachment_2076" align="alignleft" width="299" caption="FAST, RELIABLE UKAS ACCREDITED PHTHALATES TESTING AT THE LABORATORY AT THE BIRMINGHAM ASSAY OFFICE"][/caption]

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