In the continuing fight over phthalates in toys, California's Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) has made a move to extend her state's ban across the nation, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Children's health proponents say phthalates, used to soften plastics, have been linked to cancer, and function as endocrine disruptors. The industry has long downplayed and dismissed these risks, but prudent parents are increasingly asking why they should take a risk for slightly cheaper toys.
In January, California becomes the first state to ban toys and child-care products that contain more than trace amounts of phthalates. The chemicals are outlawed in the European Union, Japan, Korea, and even some developing countries like Argentina, Fiji and Mexico (which Americans sometimes claim generally has less stringent safety laws than here). Just that fact should give consumers reason to pause in the toy aisle.
A recent study by Illinois PIRG found that nearly half of 20 common plastic toys tested contained detectable levels of phthalates, several with "high levels."
Feinstein included a national ban on phthalates into the Senate version of a Consumer Product Safety Commission bill. It will have to wind its way through a reconciliation committee, and receive passage. That is likely to be a steep challenge, given the liklehood of intense opposition from the well-funded and well-connected chemical industry.
There are thousands of toy alternatives that are likely to be safer (as well as more educational in many cases) than mass-market plastics. Check out this guide on what to look for.
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