Environmental group Greenpeace called on the European Union to ban the use of chemical plastic softeners in sex toys because they contained dangerous substances known as phthalates.

"Adult sex toys contain the same toxic substances that the European Union banned from use in children’s toys," Greenpeace said in a press release from its international headquarters here.

The environmental group said it was shocked to find that seven of the eight sex toys it had tested contained between 24 and 51 percent of phthalates.

"It is unbelievable that such toxic substances can be used in adult toys. We have tested many products in the last few years but never have we encountered such high concentrations," Greenpeace spokesman Bart van Opzeeland said.

Greenpeace research has shown that phthalates can disrupt the human hormonal system, diminishes fertility and adversely affects the kidneys and liver.

The substance is used to soften plastics and PVC plastic. Greenpeace stressed that a ban on phthalates would not mean the disappearance of people’s favourite sex toys as there are plenty of non-toxic alternatives.

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A shop employee arranges a display of sex toys. Environmental group Greenpeace called on the European Union to ban the use of chemical plastic softeners in sex toys because they contained dangerous substances known as phthalates.