Press Releases

CPSC Conferees Approve Nationwide Ban on Phthalates in Children’s Products

- Senators Feinstein, Boxer Laud Consumer Product Safety Commission Bill agreement to ban phthalates; study phthalate risk to children and sources of phthalate exposure -

Washington, DC – The Consumer Product Safety Commission conference report includes an agreement that would ban phthalates from children’s toys and childcare articles, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both (D-Calif.), announced today.

Specifically, the agreement:

  • 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 3 and under. 
  • Both bans would go into effect 180 days after enactment.

In March, the Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Senator Feinstein to the Consumer Product Safety Commission reauthorization bill that would impose a nationwide ban on phthalates in children’s toys and products.

Earlier this month, Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Chairman Daniel Inouye and Chairman John Dingell and Republican Conference leaders to urge them to ensure that the final version of the Consumer Product Safety Commission reauthorization bill include the Senate-passed ban on phthalates in children’s toys and childcare products.

“Today we put children ahead of chemical companies. This will help ensure that our children are safe from dangerous chemicals. This legislation will implement a nationwide ban on many toys and products that contain phthalates,” Senator Feinstein said. “Although the CPSC will continue to study the risks these dangerous chemicals pose to our children, we won’t have to risk our children’s health while we wait for the results to come in.”

“I believe this legislation is important as the first national effort to begin to exercise a precautionary principle in the use of chemicals as additives to products that affect human health. It is my belief that chemical additives should not be placed in products that can impact health adversely until they are tested and found to be benign.”

“We’ve already seen evidence that phthalates can interfere with the natural functioning of the hormone system. And that they can cause reproductive abnormalities and result in the early onset of puberty. I’m confident that when more science comes in, it will prove that all phthalates are harmful to children and should be permanently banned,” Senator Feinstein said.

Senator Boxer said, “I am proud to have participated in some very tough negotiations which have resulted in a big win for America’s families, especially our children.  California has led the way on product safety, and this bill ensures that our State's key laws that protect and inform our consumers remain strong.  It was great to work with my colleague Senator Feinstein every step of the way."

The agreement also requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel to study the health effects on all phthalates, their risk to children and other sources of phthalate exposure. The panel will be given 18 months to complete its work.

The CPSC is expected to issue a rule based on the panel’s findings no later than 180 days after receiving them.

More than two dozen groups supported Senator Feinstein’s amendment. One of those groups, the Breast Cancer Fund, applauded today’s agreement.

“We’re pleased that congress stepped up to the plate and included a ban on phthalates in kid’s toys in the Consumer Product Safety Act and thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer for their extraordinary leadership on this historic measure,” said Breast Cancer Fund’s Janet Nudelman.   “This is a huge victory for children’s health.  Parents will no longer have to wonder if unsafe chemicals in the toys they buy every day might be increasing their child’s risk of early puberty and breast cancer.”


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 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.

Exposure to phthalates can cause long-term health effects. Phthalates interfere with the functioning of the hormone system, and have been linked to certain defects in reproductive organs. 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.

In addition, major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us and Target have already begun to take phthalate-containing children’s products off their shelves, and have informed toy producers that beginning in 2009, they will no longer sell toys that contain phthalates.