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Greenpeace issues toxic sex toy warning

'Crystal Jelly Double Dong' off the menu

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Greenpeace Netherlands has issued a statement warning sex toy lovers not to shove the "Spectra Gel Anal Plug" or the "Crystal Jelly Double Dong" where the sun don't shine, according to an eye-watering report on Expatica.

The reason behind the shock advisory is not the possible risk of ending up in hospital with a dildo stuck firmly up your jacksie and having to endure the humiliating laughter of medical staff who avail themselves of the opportunity of grabbing a few X-rays for later dissemination on the internet, but rather that sex toys apparently contain "extremely high concentrations of phthalate plasticisers which allegedly pose a risk to human health and the environment".

Phthalates are oil-derived plasticisers commonly used to soften PVC. Research centre TNO examined eight sex toys at Greenpeace's behest, "including dildos, vibrators and butt plugs". It discovered that seven of the items contained high levels of phthalates, including DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) which was last year permanently banned from kids' toys in the EU because of a possible health risk to young children.

Greenpeace's Bart van Opzeeland, head of the the organisation's campaign against toxic materials, said: "I cannot remember over the last five years such high concentrations being found in research."

A Greenpeace statement added: "Remember, these are chemicals which do not easily biodegrade and can be dangerous - even in small amounts."

The Phthalates Information Centre Europe, meanwhile, is having none of it. Its website declares: "Plasticised PVC has been used for nearly 50 years without a single known case of it having caused any ill-health and the environmental effects of phthalates are known to be minimal."

The website's section on "EU Risk Assessments" of five commonly-used phthalates says that diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) show "no risks to human health or the environment for any current use".

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), though, demonstrates "some potential risk to plants in the vicinity of processing sites and possibly to workers through inhalation".

The risk assessments for butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP) and DEHP "remain open as scientific data is still being considered".

Back in September 2004, the EU Competitiveness Council did indeed vote for a permanent ban on DEHP, DBP and BBP for use in all PVC toys, extending a temporary order imposed in 1999. Furthermore, it banned DINP, DIDP, and di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) "from toys and child care items that children can put in the mouth".

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, later said: "Europe's citizens expect all products sold on the EU's internal market to be safe, but this is particularly the case for toys and childcare products. Toxic chemicals have no place in children's toys. Our action on phthalates shows that when a risk is identified, the EU can act effectively to protect the health of its children."

The ban came into full force in January 2006, although the aforementioned EU Risk Assessment for DINP and DIDP (published April 2006) adds weight to industry suspicions that environmental pressure groups have for political reasons exaggerated the risks posed by phthalates.

As the Phthalates Information Centre Europe said back in April: "Following the recent adoption of EU legislation with regard to the marketing and use of DINP and DIDP in toys and childcare articles, the risk assessment conclusions published today in the Official Journal clearly state that there is no need for any further measures to regulate the use of DINP and DIDP."

For the record, rodents exposed to high levels of phthalates have reportedly suffered damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and developing testes. Exponents of phthalate use say the test levels were much higher than would occur as a result of everyday exposure to PVC.

The green lobby says even low levels pose a health risk. And so it goes round and round...We leave it to you to decide whether the undoubted delights of the PVC "Cyber Pussy" are outweighed by the potential risks. ®

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