Dangers of Phthalates
Some of the better brands of Space Hoppers will mention "Phthalates Free" which to some will be meaning less indeed it was to us until we researched it.
Phthalates are everywhere, and a tidal wave of new research has documented their wide-ranging negative health impacts. They are a type of chemical that can be found in household cleaners, food packaging, insect repellent, fragrance, cosmetics, personal-care products and the car's steering wheel, dashboard, and gear stick. (When you smell "new car," you're smelling phthalates.).
The use of Phthalates in plastic is to make it softer and more flexible, a feature obvsiously needed for a bouncy space hopper. So it is clear that they are good for space hoppers however there is a negative effect upon your health, so much so it has actually be banned for use in baby toys, and baby bottles within the EU.
Phthalates have been shown to have a link between childhood asthma and exposure in the womb (uterus) to certain plasticisers.
Tests on animals have shown that Phthalates can affect the animals' reproductive systems. They act as hormone-disrupting chemicals, mimicking sex hormones in the body.
There is also some evidence that exposure to plasticisers in the womb may be linked to boys playing in a less 'masculine' way.
Evidence has also be shown that prenatal exposure to BPA is linked to increased anxiety and depression in preschool-aged girls.
A study into the effect of Phthalates on human placental cells concluded that Phthalates may affect the development of the placenta. However this study was conducted in a lab on cells taken from a placenta. We can't be sure that the results would apply to a fully functioning placenta.
Animal studies have also linked Phthalates with cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
So after reading the research and armed with the facts that the EU has banned them in some use we have been converted ans can see why brands that are "Phthalates Free" use it proudly, albeit without explain what it means. We have tested both Space Hoppers with Phthalates (most on the market before 2010), and the newer hoppers that have it described in the product specification and it is impossible to tell the bounce apart, so the brands that have made the leap to stop using the dangerous Phatalates have managed to retain the benifits without forefiting the quality of the products, indeed all the brands we tested are the quality end of the market. The cheaper products found, especially not targeted solely for a UK all still use the "Phthalates" to keep costs of the product down to a minimum.
For people wanting to do their own research you can find out about Phthalates and what the "Phthalates Free" and the UK "REACH Test" (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of CHemicals) you can visit the Health & Safety Executive UK goverment site http://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/
Space Hoppers UK