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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government proposed on Friday to ban the use of chemicals known as phthalates in soft vinyl toys, dolls, inflatable toys and vinyl bibs that could cause problems if sucked or chewed by a child for extended periods.
However, the chemical industry said there was no scientific basis for such a ban.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said studies showed the phthalates, which help make vinyl plastic soft and flexible, may cause liver and kidney failure in young children if it is in their mouths for a long time.
"This is part of our overall efforts to ensure that families have confidence in the quality and safety of what they buy," she said as she announced the proposed regulations.
The American Chemistry Council, which represents the leading companies in the industry, said phthalates do not migrate out of products easily nor build up in the body. It said they break down within minutes.
"There is no scientific basis to believe that Health Canada's decision to restrict certain phthalates in children's products will improve public health or meet the stated objective of protecting the health and safety of Canadian children," it said.
"Importantly, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies, average phthalates exposure levels are far below those set by the government to be protective of human health," it said.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson