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October 17, 2007
Also appeared in print Oct. 22, 2007, p. 12


California Bans Phthalates In Toys For Children

American Chemistry Council laments that the law is not good science or good government

Bette Hileman

On Oct. 14, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that prohibits the use of certain phthalates in toys and child care products for children under three years of age.


"We must take this action to protect our children," Schwarzenegger said. "These chemicals threaten the health and safety of our children at critical stages in their development."

"This law is the product of the politics of fear," says American Chemistry Council President Jack Gerard. "It is not good science, and it is not good government. Thorough scientific reviews in this country and in Europe have found these toys safe for children to use."

Specifically, the California law will ban the manufacture, sale, and distribution of any toy or child care product that contains more than 0.1% of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). Also, toys or child care articles that can be put in children's mouths are banned if they contain more than 0.1% of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP).

The restrictions take effect on Jan. 1, 2009. Manufacturers must use the least toxic alternatives when replacing phthalates. According to the legislation, they must not use carcinogens or reproductive toxicants that cause birth defects or developmental harm as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the California Safe Drinking Water Act.

Phthalates are used in many products for young children, including teething rings, toys, and soft plastic books. They are added to improve the flexibility of polyvinyl chloride and to bind fragrances in baby lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

In signing the bill, Schwarzenegger attached a statement saying that although action on phthalates is warranted now, addressing this type of concern on a chemical-by-chemical, product-by-product basis is not the most effective way to make chemical policy in California.

The European Union and at least 14 other countries have banned certain phthalates in products for young children after studies found that they can interfere with hormones and might lead to early puberty or cause reproductive defects and other health problems.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society


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