Hidden hazards revealed in Disney products

Children face toxic chemical cocktail

Feature story - 20 October, 2003
Tests by independent scientists have revealed that toxic 'gender bending' chemicals are found in everyday children's products like Disney pyjamas. These chemicals can damage the developing foetus and young children; they should not be found in products you put your kids into every night.

Toxic chemicals found in consumer products are increasingly found in childrens bodies.

Five pairs of Disney pyjamas and one "Bob the Builder" set were found to contain chemicals thought to interfere with human DNA and affect sperm production in mammals. All garments were found also to contain toxic chemicals that are banned from teething toys under emergency EU legislation because they can cause liver, kidney and testicular damage. The highest levels of these chemicals were found in Disney "Tigger" pyjamas.

Tests on a wide range of consumer products revealed toxic chemicals in a variety of products such as baby bottles, perfumes and cleaning products.

The findings come a week before the European Commission will present new legislation to Parliament that aims to bring greater protection to consumers from the uncontrolled use of chemicals. Heavy lobby pressure from the chemical industry has significantly weakened the legislation already, resulting in loopholes that mean the kind of chemicals found in the study - may be unaffected by the new rules.

To find out more about these chemicals, their effects on the body and where in the home you can find them check out the chemical home website. If you are from the UK you can DO something about these chemicals here or everyone can directly lobby the European Commissioners to demand strong legislation before Oct 28.

Our campaigner Mark Strutt said, "On behalf of every parent, we are pushing for a new law on chemicals will make sure that hazardous chemicals that get into children's bodies are phased out and replaced with safer substitutes".

He added, "Replacing these chemicals with safer alternatives will benefit everybody. It's time for the chemical industry to stop polluting children's bodies."

Industry claims that protecting our health and the environment is too expensive and has been using scare tactics over costs and jobs to argue against these new rules. However an independent assessment published recently shows that cleaning up will cost only E2.3 billion or 0.05 percent of the European chemicals industries' annual turnover. On the other hand a recent study estimates benefits of the new legislation at up to E283 billion.

"The costs are peanuts for the chemicals sector," says John Hontelez, of the European Environmental Bureau. "As well as confirming our own estimates, the impact assessment highlights the irresponsibility of those industry representatives and politicians who have tried to kill the reform in recent weeks and months."

The new legislation must mandate that toxic chemicals not be approved where safer alternatives exist. This would help ensure that products in our homes do not contain hidden poisons that end up in our bodies. If the EU acts now and implements strong laws, other areas of the world will follow. If not, a dangerous global experiment on you and me will remain unchecked.

Take Action

You can help win the fight against dangerous chemicals. Here's three things you can do:

1. Use your consumer power to vote for green products, and against dangerous chemicals.

Look at our chemical products and don't buy the ones on the red list. Shop wisely by buying the products on the green list instead. This is simple yet very effective: every time you buy a product, you vote for that product. If you know Fairy liquid contains toxic chemicals and Ecover doesn't, you will always choose Ecover. The more people that do this, the more quickly manufacturers will be forced into action.

2. Take action! Please visit our chemicalreaction.org website to lobby individual members of the EU while they discuss the control of toxic chemicals in the EU. Also in Deutsch | Español | Français | Italiano | Nederlands


3. Return to sender!

Got any products on our red list? Think you would be better off without them? Send your toxic products, or the empty packaging to Patricia Hewitt, UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. She is determined to wreck new legislation designed to protect human health and the environment from the chemical pollution. She complains that it will be too expensive and if chemical companies are forced to test their products for safety before they sell them they will move abroad. She has not said anything about protection of health and the environment.

Follow these easy steps to return you toxic products:

  • Find toxic products on our 'red' list that you have in your house, such as shampoo or children's toys
  • Print out this letter and sign it, or better still write your own letter.
  • Package up the product or wrapper put it in an envelope or wrap it in (recycled!) paper, along with the letter
  • Print out this address label and stick it to the parcel
  • Put it in the post
4. Spread the word

Tell your friends about the Chemical Home website, so that they can arm themselves with information too.

5. Join Greenpeace