Congress Approves Nationwide Ban on Phthalates in Children’s Products
- Senators Feinstein, Boxer laud measure included in Consumer Product Safety Commission conference report -
Jul 31 2008
Washington, DC – The U.S. Congress has approved a measure sponsored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.) that bans phthalates from children’s toys and childcare articles.
The measure was included in the Consumer Product Safety Commission conference report which passed the House yesterday, the Senate today and will now be sent to the President.
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 3 and under.
- Both bans would go into effect 180 days after enactment.
In March, the Senate approved an amendment 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.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is a member of the CPSC Conference Committee and fought throughout the process to retain the Feinstein amendment. Senators Boxer and Feinstein sent a letter to Chairman Daniel Inouye and Chairman John Dingell 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.
“This legislation will implement a nationwide ban on many toys and products that contain phthalates and help ensure that our children are safe from dangerous chemicals. These phthalates will be permitted back into toys only if they are found to be safe.
“We should go further and examine the use of phthalates and other chemicals in additional products such as lotions and shampoos. I have co-sponsored legislation that would ban another chemical, bisphenol-A, from products intended for children ages seven and younger.
“In the future, I believe we need to look at reforming our nation’s entire chemical regulatory system. Chemical additives should not be placed in products that can impact health adversely until they are tested and found to be benign. Instead, we need to take the same precautionary approach as other countries, such as those in the European Union, to protect vulnerable populations, especially children, from potentially toxic chemicals.”
Senator Boxer said: "I am so proud that I was able to serve on the Conference Committee and help produce this critical legislation, which will save so many children from tragic illness."
The agreement also requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel to study the health affects on all phthalates, their risk to children and other sources of phthalate exposure. The panel will be given 18 months to complete its work, which also will include a study into alternative plasticizers and other materials.
The CPSC is expected to issue a ruled based on the panel’s findings no later than 180 days after receiving them.
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 severe long-term health effects. 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.
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.