Monday, December 21, 2009

O, Canada: Sex Toys Can (and Should) be Healthy

When it comes to sexuality issues, our neighbors to the north are often much more pragmatic and far-sighted than many here in the States. Not uniformly or across the board, mind you, but there's a lot to be said for a country where same-sex marriage became legal not only much sooner but with much less brouhaha.

Let's hope the same can be said about healthy sex toys.

That's right. According to this article, two Toronto sisters who co-own an eco-friendly erotic boutique (talk about a niche market) decided to contact a member of the Canadian Parliament about the presence of high-risk chemicals in certain vibrators, dildoes and other sexy insertables. And Dr. Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal MP and a medical doctor, not only listened but composed her own letter to Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Minister of Health, about "the urgent need for responsible regulation in the adult toy industry."

And keep in mind, we're not talking about making it illegal to sell a dildo or vibrator, or own more than a certain number. We're talking about making sure the materials they're made from don't have adverse effects on your health.

Many "jelly" toys, for example, have incredibly high levels of phthalates -- chemical compounds used to soften plastics, and which have been linked to both cancers and hormonal disruption. While governments consider six parts per billion as "safe" levels for phthalates in the majority of consumer items, a German chemist in 2000 found jelly sex toys with levels as high as 243,000 parts per million. Do the math.

If you're Canadian, please write to Ms. Aglukkaq and urge her to act on Dr. Bennett's recommendation. Her address:

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, P.C., M.P.
Health Canada
Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney's Pasture
Postal Locator: 0906C
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

For us down here in the US, it's a lot more tricky. But there are some things you can do:

* Become an educated sex toy consumer, and share your knowledge with others.
* Shop at retailers that stress healthy and eco-friendly products.
* Write to public officials about the need for health and safety regulations for sex toys.
* Raise the issue with women's health and environmental organizations.

We consider it sensible to make sure all sorts of commercial goods are safe to use. It's time erotic goods fit the same expectations.

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