Bathing Items Found To Contain Toxic Chemicals: Greenpeace Calls
For A Ban On TBT
Hamburg, 29th August 2000: Greenpeace today called for an immediate ban on the use of TBT (tributyl tin) and other
organotins in all consumer products after analyses revealed that eight inflatable beach bathing items made of soft PVC
contain the toxic organotin compounds TBT and DBT (dibutyl tin).
“TBT is a chemical poison and its use is out of control,” said Greenpeace toxics expert, Manfred Krautter. “We can
assume it is contained in thousands of leisure and household products. Chemical companies will not voluntarily do away
with these toxic compounds,” said Mr Krautter. “Only when banned completely will these toxic substances be removed from
our everyday household items.”
Organotin compounds are used in high concentrations as stabilisers in numerous articles made of PVC. Results of tests
commissioned by Greenpeace on inflatable water wings, beach balls and air mattresses revealed that many contain between
0.9 and 26.2 micro-grammes of TBT per kilogramme and up to 1,470 microgrammes of DBT.
While acute damage to health from these products is unlikely at these concentrations, a long-term hazard to the
environment and human health cannot be ruled out. TBT is an environmental pollutant and endocrine disrupter. Even the
smallest amount of TBT can harm people’s immune systems and probably impair their hormonal system. DBT, with which the
bathing items are particularly highly contaminated, is classified as having a toxicity similar to TBT.
In May this year, Greenpeace found TBT in various brands of babies’ diapers and published the findings. Four weeks
later, new analyses showed that, with one exception, all products of the same brands no longer contained TBT, revealing
that alternatives to TBT are available and can be used by industry. TBT has also recently been found in the printing
materials used for logos on football shirts and in garden hoses, sports shoes, paints for interior decoration, foot
sprays and PVC flooring.
According to the World Health Organisation, TBT is one of the most toxic substances knowingly released into the
environment today. In March, the German environment minister, Mr Trittin, announced a ban on TBT in Germany. So far
nothing has happened. The industry minister, Mr Mueller, is opposed to a national ban as he wants TBT to be permissible
for ships’ paints – the very products which account for 90 per cent of the use of all the TBT produced. Greenpeace is
calling for an immediate ban on TBT and other organotin compounds in the EU and for the global ban on TBT in ships’
paints, currently being discussed by the International Maritime Organisation, to be enforced by 1 January 2003.