Danish retailers report that they often lack information about the composition of sex toys that they sell. A recent (2006) study conducted by the Greenpeace Netherlands office found high level of phthalates in seven out of eight plastic sex toys tested.
Studies on rodents have revealed that when exposed to very large doses, phthalates can cause damage to the liver, lungs, kidneys, testes and can cause hormonal disruption. The latest research indicates that exposure to these substances can upset the body's ability to regulate hormone production, damage reproduction, and cause cause liver and kidney defects. They can also possibly cause cancer.
Sex toys are currently classified as novelties, despite their sexual nature. This is because sex toy manufacturers find the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to have extensive testing and financial requirements for sex toys to be classified as medical devices. Therefore, sex toy manufacturers more often choose the less complex production by labeling them a novelty. Due to the novelty classification, sex toys are permitted to contain known toxins in them such as Phthalates (some of which have been banned in children’s toys by the CPSC) and in some cases lead paint.
In 2000, the development toward safe and nontoxic sex toys in the United States began with sexual health pioneers such as Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D. whom founded one of the first retail sex toy stores (Holistic Wisdom) to carry only nontoxic sex toys. Her articles, radio and magazine interviews have been a major influence in the public eye; allowing consumers to become more aware of health concerns regarding sex toy safety. Lawless also began a movement toward safer sex toys through the National Association for the Advancement of Science & Art in Sexuality (NAASAS). This trade organization works with professionals in the field of sexuality and the adult industry to self regulate the safety of sex toys.