Imagine a child sitting in his classroom, gazing through the window at the rain. He picks up his pencil and chews distractedly on the eraser at its top. Chemicals, classed in Europe as "toxic to reproduction," dissolve in his saliva and enter his body.
.It's a scenario that may not be unusual. A report published last week by a consortium of 140 environment groups shows that potentially risky chemicals are present in dozens of everyday plastic items for sale by European retailers -- from shoes to erasers, from pencil cases to sex toys.
The study focused on a group of chemicals known as phthalates, six of which have been virtually banned in toys in the European Union since 1999 over fears they can damage the sexual development of children. But as the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) found in its study, phthalates are present in items routinely used by children and on sale in big supermarkets such as Carrefour and Tesco.