Press Releases

Statement of Senator Feinstein on Phthalate Ban

-- Beginning today, stores may not sell children’s toys or childcare products containing certain phthalates --

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued the following statement about the federal ban on phthalates which goes into effect today. Phthalates are chemicals added to common plastic products to make them soft and pliable. Exposure to phthalates can cause severe long-term health problems.

“I am very pleased that starting today, any toy or childcare product that can be placed in a child’s mouth will no longer be sold containing dangerous phthalates. And no toy or product aimed at children ages 12 and younger may contain lead,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) “This is a major step forward in reassessing how this nation regulates chemicals in consumer products. People should be protected from chemicals until we know for sure that they are safe for use.”
The ban on phthalates, sponsored by Senator Feinstein, was included in the Consumer product Safety improvement Act. The legislation was signed into law by President Bush on August 14. The ban takes effect today.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Imposes a permanent ban on three dangerous phthalates (DEHP, DBP and BBP) in toys for children ages 12 and under, and childcare items for children ages 3 and under. 
  • Imposes an interim ban on three additional phthalates (DINP, DIDP, DnOP) in toys for children ages 12 and under that are small enough to be sucked or chewed by a child, and in any childcare items for children three and under.


Phthalates are found in a variety of children’s toys and childcare products that are frequently put in a child’s mouth, such as teethers, rubber ducks and soft books. They are also found in a number of common household items such as vinyl shower curtains and nail polish.

Phthalates interfere with the functioning of the hormone system, and can cause reproductive defects. Young children are particularly vulnerable.

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 also banned these chemicals from children’s products. In 2007, California became the first state in the nation to pass legislation prohibiting phthalates in many toys and childcare products.