Press Releases

Senator Feinstein Commends Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us for Curtailing Sales of Toys Containing Phthalates

- Senator asks for support of her legislation banning six phthalates in children’s toys -

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded the recent decisions by Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart to require their suppliers to produce toys without phthalates.

Phthalates are chemicals added to common plastic products to make them soft and pliable. They are found in a variety of children’s toys and childcare products, such as teethers, rubber ducks and soft bath books.

Exposure to phthalates can interfere with the functioning of the hormone system and can cause other severe long-term health effects.

Senator Feinstein has introduced legislation that would establish a federal ban on phthalates in children’s toys. The ban would include any toy with more than a trace amount (0.1 percent) of any one of six types of phthalates. The bill also would require manufacturers to use the safest possible alternative to phthalates.

Following is the text of the letters Senator Feinstein sent to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart and Gerald L. Storch, CEO of Toys “R” Us:
I write to commend [your] recent decision to stop selling toys for children that contain phthalates.  This action will protect the health and safety of America’s children, and I believe the standard you have set should be a national policy.

As you know, phthalates are plasticizing chemicals that are used to make a variety of consumer products soft and pliable.  They are used in a variety of children’s toys, like rubber ducks and balls.  When children chew or suck on these plastic toys, phthalates leach from the toys and enter their bodies.  Scientific research indicates that the consequences of phthalate exposure can be severe.  Phthalates interfere with the natural functioning of the hormone system, and can cause reproductive and genital defects.  Exposure is linked to the early onset of puberty, and may lower sperm counts. 

California recently became the first state in the Nation to ban the use of phthalates in toys and other childcare articles, joining the European Union and 14 other countries.  It is my belief that the United States should follow this lead. 

Your decisive action is a critical step towards this goal.  No toy retailer should suffer a competitive disadvantage because of a voluntary action to protect children’s health and safety.  It is my belief that the phthalate restrictions adopted by Wal-Mart should be our national standard.  I have introduced legislation to do just that, and I would welcome your active support.  A copy of my legislation is enclosed for your review. 

Parents deserve to know that every toy available in the United States will not cause their children harm, and I look forward to working with you to accomplish this goal.  

Best regards,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator