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Health and Wellness

Warning Out on Plastic Swimming Toys that may Pose a Health Risk

Inflatable swimming toys

3 April 2023, Quezon City. As families and friends plan to troop to beaches and pools to escape the heat, a toxics watchdog group called attention to potential health risks from using recreational plastic inflatable toys.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned against inflatable swimming toys that may contain a chemical compound called phthalates, which are added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to make it flexible and soft. Phthalates are known to leach out from products containing them such as PVC toys.

“Consumers should be aware that some beach or pool balls, floats, rings and other inflatables may contain phthalates that are banned or restricted in toys. In fact, at least 83 such products have been withdrawn from the European Union’s market for containing phthalates above the 0.1 percent limit,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Like in Europe and the US, children’s toys containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) are prohibited in the Philippines as per DOH Administrative Order No. 2009-0005-A. The same order bans diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in amounts exceeding 0.1 percent in toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth.

In previous years, the EcoWaste Coalition had bought and submitted inflatable toys to a private laboratory for phthalate analysis. For example, a swim ring was found to contain 19.6 percent DEHP and 1.29 percent DINP; a swim arm band had 19.4 percent DEHP; and a baby boat had 17.5 percent DEHP and 0.78 DINP. Last year, the group detected 23 percent DINP in one inflatable baby chair.

Inflatable swimming toys

Animal and human studies have linked phthalate exposure to some health concerns, including asthma and allergic illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention deficits, learning difficulties and intellectual disability, and reproductive health disorders such as genital abnormalities and undescended testicles for baby boys and reduced sperm counts and testosterone levels in adult males.

To protect children from being exposed to phthalates in plastic toys, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded consumers to:

  • Steer clear of toys made of PVC, vinyl or plastic marked #3.
  • Purchase authorized and labeled toys from licensed distributors, wholesalers and retailers.
  • Refrain from buying soft plastic toys unless certified phthalate-free.
  • Look for a reliable phthalate-free mark on the product label.
  • Avoid plastic toys with a strong chemical smell.
  • Unpack and leave the toy outdoors for a while to let some of the hazardous chemicals to fade.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged consumers to heed the FDA’s safety reminders on the proper selection and use of aquatic toys: read the labeling information, choose toys that are suitable for the child’s age, abilities and skill level, and follow the instructions and/or weight recommendations for proper assembly and use.

The FDA further advised consumers to “check the label for the age grading, item/ model/ SKU number, warning/ cautionary statements, complete name and address of the company and license to operate number (LTO No.) of the local company responsible for placing the product in the market.”





EcoWaste Coalition
Let's make an eco-friendly, zero waste, and toxic-free Philippines a reality.