Senate Approves Feinstein Legislation to Impose a Nationwide Ban on Phthalates in Children’s Products
- Amendment passed as part of Consumer Product Safety Commission Bill -
Mar 06 2008
Washington, DC – The Senate today approved an amendment by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would impose a nationwide ban on phthalates in children’s toys and products. The amendment was included in the Consumer Product Safety Commission bill.
“This is a big victory for parents of small children. It will implement a nationwide ban on toys and products that contain these dangerous chemicals.” Senator Feinstein said. “Europe and California have already stepped forward and made sure that toys laden with phthalates are kept away from the hands and mouths of young children. America’s parents should be able to have the same peace of mind that the toys they buy for their children are safe.”
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.
California recently became the first state in the nation to ban the use of phthalates in toys and other childcare articles. Eight other states are considering similar bans. The European Union has banned phthalates, and Mexico has blocked imports and sales of plastic products made with phthalates for children.
The amendment bans toys and childcare products that have more than a trace amount (0.1 percent) of any one of six types of phthalates: DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DnOP. The amendment states these chemicals cannot be replaced with other dangerous chemicals identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as carcinogens, possible carcinogens, or chemicals that cause reproductive or developmental harm.
The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Retailers Take Voluntary Action
Retailers Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us recently announced that they will voluntarily comply with California’s standard nationwide. They informed toy producers that beginning in 2009, they will no longer sell toys that contain phthalates.
The science involving phthalates is still evolving. However, we know that exposure to phthalates can cause serious long-term health effects.
Here are a few examples:
- Pregnant women with high levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to give birth to boys with reproductive birth defects.
- Phthalate exposure has also been linked to premature onset of puberty in young girls as young as 8 years old.
- A 2002 study linked phthalate exposure levels to decreased fertility capacity in men.
- Phthalates found in household dusts have been linked to asthma symptoms in children.
More than two dozen groups supported Senator Feinstein’s amendment. They include:
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Fund- Center for Environmental Health
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
Clean Water Action Alliance of Massachusetts
Coalition for Clean Air
Healthy Child Healthy World
Health Education and Resources
Healthy Building Network
Healthy Children Organizing Project
INND (Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders)
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Institute for Children's Environmental Health
MOMS (Making Our Milk Safe)
Olympic Environmental Council
Oregon Center for Environmental Health
Oregon Environmental Council
PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth & her Resources)
Safe Food and Fertilizer
Sources for Sustainable Communities
The Annie Appleseed Project
Washington Toxics Coalition
WHEN (Women's Health & Environmental Network)
The following countries have banned or restricted phthalates in children’s toys and products:
The eight other states considering similar bans are: Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, West Virginia, Massachusetts and New York.