Toxic Soup: dioxins in plastic toys
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Toxic Soup: dioxins in plastic toys

Amsterdam, 10 December 2018– For some years now we have been warned that persistent organic toxins (POPs) are present in toys made from recycled plastic. Last year, the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) examined 95 Rubik’s cubes and 16 other items, such as combs and toys, from 26 countries. 90% of the examined cubes contained toxic flame retardants from casings of discarded electronic devices.

Last month, the results of a new study were published entitled Toxic Soup, Dioxins in Plastic Toys; this time nine items were examined, eight toys and one hair-slide. For the first time brominated dioxins were found in these items. All products were probably made of plastic from electronic waste containing brominated flame retardants. Brominated dioxins are hormone disrupting substances that affect. among others, the nervous system and the endocrine system and are carcinogenic. Children are particularly vulnerable.

Peter Behnisch, co-author and attached to BioDetection Systems (BSD) in Amsterdam: “We applied a biotechnological measuring method with specially grown cells that respond to dioxins. We found a surprisingly high toxic content in products made from recycled plastic. As far as we know this is the first public study that demonstrates the presence of brominated dioxins in toys for children.”

Governments aim to close the plastic chain, which involves not incinerating plastic waste, but reusing it to manufacture new products. As that chain is more closed, the risk of higher concentrations of unwanted harmful substances in new products increases. The use of harmful flame retardants is banned in the European Union, but there is no control on products imported from outside the European Union that are made from recycled plastic. The rules are less strict in other countries.

The core message of the researchers: much more stringent measures are needed to prevent toxins returning in consumer goods such as toys through recycling. Provisions of the Stockholm Convention and the Basel Convention in particular must be strengthened.

Read the summary of the study and which measures are proposed.


Also read – Nationaal plan hormoonverstorende stoffen in een circulaire economie

Also read –Toxic chemicals in toys

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From plastic soup to plastic poop

Amsterdam, 1 November 2018 – The knowledge that microplastics are present in every aspect of our lives has almost become common knowledge. Microplastics have been discovered everywhere, in water, air and soil and in fish and seafood, honey, salt and beer. With the widespread presence of microplastics, it is not surprising that they are also present in human faeces.

On the 23rd of October, Austrian researchers presented their findings during a congress in Vienna. They discovered, on average, twenty pieces of plastic per ten grams of faeces and they found nine different types of plastic in total, in the stool samples. The faeces of the eight participants, all from different countries, were sampled. All stool samples contained microplastics. The most frequently discovered plastics were polypropene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET); plastics commonly used in packaging.

Pieces of microplastics, with a size between 50 and 500 micrometre, were excreted in the human faeces, but it is still unclear if even smaller pieces remain in the human body. The smallest pieces microplastics can cross the wall of the gastrointestinal tract, enter the blood stream or tissues and cause an inflammatory reaction. How exactly the plastics entered the digestive tract of the subjects was not part of the research. However, all the subjects had eaten food that had been packed in plastic. Furthermore, drinks containing microplastics could also be a possible source.

An interview with Jeroen Dagevos of the Plastic Soup Foundation is available on the site of Talk Radio. Maria Westerbos, director van de Plastic Soup Foundation: “For sometime, it has been suspected that plastics could be present in human faeces. But main issue has to be, what the effect of microplastics is on the human body. It is therefore extremely urgent that, firstly, the research in the health effects continues and, secondly, as a precaution the use of plastics is reduced.”


Also read: How damaging is breathing in microplastics