Lawmakers charged with finalizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act agreed yesterday to include a provision that will ban phthalates from children's toys and childcare articles. The legislative action validates the concerns of scientists and parents who have been urging a ban, and will bring federal regulation in line with several states and leading retailers that have already taken action to remove phthalates from toys.
Phthalates are chemical substances used to make plastic toys like rubber ducks and bath books soft and flexible. When children put these toys in their mouths, the phthalates can easily leach from toy to child. Phthalates have been linked to serious health concerns including birth defects, early puberty in girls (a risk factor for breast cancer) and liver cancer.
"This legislation is a victory for children's health and safety," said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, "and a major blow to the chemical industry, which spent millions of dollars trying to defeat it. Congress took a first, important step toward reforming the way chemicals are regulated in this country. It's a great start and an indication that our lawmakers are ready to consider the kind of sweeping reform that's needed."
*edited to add: this legislation sounded better in theory than it may prove to be in practice, especially for handmade businesses, artisans, and small businesses who are not the makers of dangerous lead toys.