Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif) today sent the following letter to Chairman Daniel Inouye and Chairman John Dingell urging them to ensure that the final version of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reauthorization Bill includes the Senate-passed ban on phthalates in certain children’s products and child care articles.

Senator Boxer is a member of the Conference Committee and has been arguing throughout the process that the final bill must include the provision banning phthalates.  Senator Feinstein is the author of the original amendment, which passed the Senate unanimously.

The Senators’ letter follows:

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, Chairman
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation                         
364 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John D. Dingell, Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                      

Dear Chairman Inouye and Chairman Dingell:

As you continue your work to conclude conference negotiations on the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act, we write to urge you both to work to ensure that the final bill retains the Senate-passed provision banning phthalates from certain children’s products and child care articles.

Exposure to phthalates can harm the development of reproductive organs, sometimes called “Phthalate Syndrome.” Studies show that phthalates are endocrine disruptors linked to abnormalities in male babies’ genital areas, and many experts believe that the accumulation of exposures to multiple phthalates presents a risk to developing fetuses and young children.

Phthalates have been banned from many children’s products in the European Union since 1999, and at least nine other countries, including Mexico, Japan and Argentina, have followed suit in an effort to better protect children from harmful health effects of these chemicals. As of January 1, 2009, our home state of California will become the first in the nation to prohibit phthalates in many toys and child care products.  Washington State and Vermont have taken similar actions.

In addition, major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys "R" Us have already begun to take phthalate-containing children’s products off their shelves. And China, which manufactures 85 percent of the world’s toys, reportedly has created a separate manufacturing line for products intended for export to nations that ban phthalates.

With the CPSC Reform Act before us, we have a critical opportunity to protect America’s children from these chemicals.

We are greatly concerned about the potential impact of the massive lobbying efforts targeting the Conference Committee, including a major campaign by Exxon Mobil—one of the world’s biggest producers of phthalate plasticizers—which is spending millions of dollars to lobby on the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act and other issues.

It has been nearly 10 years since the Consumer Product Safety Commission first asked manufacturers to voluntarily remove phthalates from teethers, rattles, and other products babies and infants put in their mouths. But still, children’s products containing phthalates remain on store shelves across America.
So the question before us is this: Is Congress on the side of the big special interests, or on the side of America’s children? For the sake of our vulnerable children, we trust that the answer is that we are on their side.

Barbara Boxer                                            Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator                              United States Senator

cc:     Senator Ted Stevens
          Rep. Joe Barton