The European Union announced last week that it would ban six toxic chemicals within the next three to five years, three of which are common plasticizers used in household items. This move marks the first time the EU has banned substances under its Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program.

The chemicals on the chopping block include three plastic softening phthalates (DEHP, BBP and DBP), a musk fragrance, a flame retardant and a hardener for epoxy resin. The phthalates in question have been banned in children's toys in the European Union since 1999, yet they are still commonly found in products on store shelves, even in products that are regularly used by children, such as pencil cases, lunch boxes and erasers.

According to other terms of the ban, sale or use of the six chemicals must cease in three to five years unless a company obtains authorization from the commission by producing evidence that it has safety measures in place to control risks adequately and that the benefits to the economy and society outweigh the risks of using the compound.

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