Phthalates are a group of chemical compounds used in the production of plastics such as PVC to make them softer and more flexible. When present in consumer products, phthalates can be released because they are not chemically bound to the plastics. This may lead to human exposure, which has raised public concern. Many different phthalates exist with different properties, uses, and health effects.

Because of their potential effects on human health, the European Union has banned the use of six specific phthalates in products for children. Notably, DEHP, DBP and BBP have been banned in all toys and childcare articles, and DINP, DIDP and DNOP have been banned only in those articles that children could suck and chew on.

Source: European Commission, Public Health web site