Researchers Find Dangerously High Concentrations of Dioxins in Toys Made of Recycled Plastic

An international team of researchers has found brominated dioxins in toys made from recycled black plastic and proven the toxic effects of the chemicals in the cells of rodents. The samples analyzed contained brominated chemicals in concentrations otherwise found only in hazardous waste, like the ash from waste incinerators. Children who put the toys in their mouths face a serious health risk, say the authors. They will publish their complete findings in an article in the July issue of Chemosphere.

The team consisted of scientists from the IPEN network, the Czech NGO Arnika, and the Dutch BioDetection Systems. It developed a method of analysis that safely enables proving the presence of brominated flame retardants and dioxins and estimating their toxicity. In the IPEN press release, the scientists emphasize the importance of their findings and that toys made from some recycled plastic are poisonous.

All the toys studied were produced in China but sold in Argentina, the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Nigeria, and Portugal. The raw material is made from recycled black plastic. The crux of the argument is that this plastic is made from electronics waste treated with flame retardants. Highly toxic dioxins can develop from these brominated flame retardants during recycling processes. Although brominated dioxins are not forbidden by the Stockholm Convention, their toxicity corresponds to that of the chemically related chlorinated dioxins listed in Annex C of the Stockholm Convention.

In the IPEN press release, Jindrich Petrlik, executive director of Arnika and the lead scientist of the study, called for the removal from circulation of plastics treated with flame retardants and for the definition of strict thresholds for POPs.

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