So much for the Holiday Spirit. As you shop for your kid’s holiday presents this season, you risk buying a toy that contains an already banned plastic linked to children’s illnesses.That’s because “a new federal ban on the use of the controversial chemical phthalate in teethers, pacifiers and other children’s products won’t apply to goods already in warehouses or on store shelves, federal safety regulators said yesterday.” – Annys Shin, The Washington Post
Unfortunately the Consumer Product and Safety Commision has decided to allow the makers of child toys and products containing a banned plastic to remain on the shelves.This means that, various companies, including manufacturers in China and other third will countries, will be allowed to sell their products containing the controversial chemical as long as they are manufactured before the date the ban takes place (February 10th, 2009).Most of these products are already on shelves for the holidays.
The ban, which was passed in August as part of a landmark product safety law, is supposed to remain in effect until a panel finishes a scientific review of phthalates.Although testing is still taking place, a scientific consensus has already formed that demonstrates this plastic’s hazard.Studies have shown that phthalates, “…have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects.” Phthalates have negative effects on individuals of all age, however, in particular, “Young infants are more vulnerable to the potential adverse effects of phthalates given their increased dosage per unit body surface area, metabolic capabilities, and developing endocrine and reproductive systems.” – Sathyanarayana
The ban is supposed to remain in effect until a panel finishes a scientific review of phthalates.With studies showing the adverse effects of phthalate on the body, it is clear that this decision violates the direct purpose of the law.If consumers will not be able to tell what products were made when, and which products contain phthalates, than the ban will have little to no effect in helping consumers protect themselves.As Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America puts it, “How will parents know whether the rubber ducky they’re buying was made today and not in March?'”
Here are some tips to parents prevent your child from exposure to phthalates.First, look for the common names of phthalates on ingredient lists, which is usually an abbreviation with a “P” on the end, such as DEHP, DINP, DBP, DEP, and DIP.Second, when purchasing toys for your child after this holiday season check to see that it is manufactured after the date of February 20th, 2009.This assures that the ban has taken effect, and that the toy is phthalate free.For more information on phthalates and how to recognize which products contain them, please visit the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition profile page on phthalates.