Don’t Let This Grinch Steal Your Christmas – Greenpeace Lies About Vinyl Are Outrageous, Unscientific

by “Fossil Bill” Kramer

We’ve all heard of the Grinch who stole Christmas. But it’s just lately – mid-November, 1998, in fact – we finally learned that Grinch’s name:


Now the Grinch is stealing this Christmas. Why? Well, though essential to many life-saving medicines as well as other products, and while even our own bodies make it to fight infections, this Grinch has long waged total war against chlorine. And several years back it opened another front by mounting an offensive against vinyl (polyvinyl chloride) saying chlorine made it dangerous.

Recently, however, its campaigns against chlorine and vinyl have lost popularity – as has the Grinch itself. We’re told since 1991 it has lost nearly two-thirds of its members, much of its budget, been forced to lay off over 80% of its staff and close most of its offices.

Obviously this crisis called for desperate measures!

So on November 19 the Grinch issued an ultimatum! It demanded an immediate nationwide ban – and recall of – “all vinyl toys, and other vinyl products” intended for young children. Without mentioning its past bugaboo – chlorine content – it now claimed that chemical softeners found in toys and other vinyl products are “toxic when ingested by animals with effects ranging from liver and kidney damage to reproductive abnormalities and possibly cancer.”

If its terms weren’t met, it “announced plans to sue” toy companies by Christmas, starting in California.

The grinch also charged that besides “softeners” many vinyl products contain dangerous levels of lead and cadmium. It demanded that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) warn “consumers to avoid exposure to other vinyl products (clothing, etc.)”

Wow, Grinch! Great stunt! And the timing couldn’t be better. Now, instead of carryout clerks helping people haul Christmas purchases out of stores, they’ll be helping carry them back in for refunds. This will put zillions of dollars back in circulation. Instead of being locked in store safes and industry bank accounts, they can be spent again on other products. What a great economic stimulus! If toy makers, wholesalers and retailers have to lay off thousands, they deserve it for jeopardizing child safety. Don’t they?

We’re indebted to you, and also to those intrepid journalists at 20/20, CNN, the Washington Post and other media who spread your sensational alarm, for saving kids from a toxic vinyl fate worse than death.

That is, we’d be indebted IF there were any truth in your allegations.

But there isn’t!! Rather, it’s another phony scare like the apples-Alar panic several years ago. Back then we were told by green groups through major media (who didn’t research that matter, either) that Alar – a chemical used to slow ripening of some types of apples – had been shown in animal studies to be toxic and cause cancer. So people shunned apples, grocers dumped them in the garbage, and countless apple growers saw their businesses destroyed.

Turned out is was all lies. Massive amounts of Alar had to be force-fed to rodents before symptoms developed. For humans to ingest equivalent amounts, each would have to eat nearly half a bushel of treated apples daily for 70 years!

The problem, Greenpeace, is grinches don’t hesitate to ignore, distort or invent facts. Recalling Alar, my wife and I decided to research your latest charges about vinyl. Here’s what we found. Hopefully it’ll let people take back at least a bit of the Christmas you and your media mouthpieces are making off with.

    * “Toxic Chemicals Found in Vinyl Children’s Products” brays the headline of your recent news release. But Dutch studies show the possibility of kids absorbing toxic amounts are “so rare that the statistical likelihood cannot be estimated.”

Even Consumer Alert calls your assault “a fear-mongering attach” – “scary but science-less.”

    * You state, “Four European countries are or have already implemented bans on . . vinyl toys.” But you omitted that the other European nations found no cause for concern.

    * You also claim that dangerous amounts of lead and cadmium appear in vinyl children’s products (implying toys) but ignore that for 20 years CPSC has banned lead in toys and in 1997 the agency emphatically denied your claims.

While small amounts of lead exist in items like some backpacks and raincoats, to exceed federal safety limits a child would have to devour a large piece of the material every day for at least a year.

As columnists, we don’t support industry any more than we do Grinches. Our sole objective is to track down and report truth – whatever it may be.

In this case, we’ve contacted numerous sources and amassed much information. Having eight grandkids, we of course are concerned about their health. Here’s what we’ve concluded:

    There’s no scientific or medical evidence that vinyl is dangerous. While many stores are pulling vinyl products off their shelves, it’s not because they believe they’re harmful. We’d guess they worry about phony damage suits being filed against them.

As for you, Grinch, we hope your scheme backfires and you never again try to steal Christmas.

To comment, write: Environmentalist, Box 146, Silver Bay, MN 55614 For personal response enclose self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and National Grassroots Coordinator for CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) working to help local activists organize into Freedom Pods ( He is also the author of three books, including Now Tell Me I Was Wrong, ERASE, and Sustainable: the WAR on Free Enterprise, Private Property, and Individuals.