The oceans keep filling with plastic trash, most impressively in the 26-milllion-square-kilometre North Pacific Gyre. This plastic island includes thousands of "rubber" ducks, those squishy bath and seashore pals, which are getting bounced by vigilant parents as news spreads about toxic phthalates and bisphenol-A leaching from PVC and polycarbonate plastic toys, teethers, baby bottles, and sippy cups. Phthalates, used to soften PVC vinyl plastic for malleable toys, have been found to migrate out of the plastic. While the European Union has banned phthalates from use in toys, teethers, and pacifiers for children younger than three years, The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has simply asked companies to voluntarily eschew the chemicals.

Happily, a lot of toy companies have gone PVC-free in their plastic toys, including:

Tiny Love

Lamaze Baby Toys  

Lego   

Or go plastic-free with sustainably sourced wooden teethers and animal toys, colored with nontoxic stains, at the Playstore.

When shopping for non-PVC duckies and other toys, do check the packaging, too.  While  this cute European duck and bath set is non-PVC, it comes, alas, in a PVC pouch.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2008. The story was moved to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ press 2008