California Phthalate Ban Now in Effect

California has officially banned <"">phthalates in children’s products in advance of the federal law that comes into effect next month.  The McClatchy-Tribune News Service reported that the law went into effect late last week and bans the sale of phthalate-containing toys and children’s products.  In response to the CPSC law, California Attorney General Jerry Brown told the CPSC last month that the federal government “had no authority to preempt California’s stricter version,” said McClatchy-Tribune.

The ban means that these products may not contain in excess of 0.1 percent phthalates, reported the news service, adding that this is the “strictest standard nationwide for phthalates in consumer products.”  Phhalates are toxic plastic-softening chemicals that can be found in some children’s toys and products and which have been making headlines lately over pending implementation of a ban on these toxins.  Some studies have linked phthalates to a variety of health issues that include hormonal problems in children.

The federal law involves children’s toys and products manufactured after February 10, a point of contention between industry and advocates.  As a matter-of-fact, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is being sued by both the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen, two consumer advocacy groups, Reuters reported.  The groups say the CPSC appears to be looking to only implement parts of the ban, said Reuters; noted that the CPSC seems to be working in the interests of big business at the expense of America’s children and babies.  The lawsuit says that despite that the February 10, 2009 ban mandates otherwise, the CPSC is allowing toxic toys and children’s products to be made prior to the ban, said Reuters.  This means that toxic toys will not only continue to be sold in stores prior to the ban, they could very well be sold after the ban’s implementation date, which many feel goes against the original intent of the ban.

Ed Weil, a supervising deputy attorney general with the Office of the Attorney General in Oakland told the McClatchy-Tribune News Service that, “As long as you got it off the assembly line in time, you could sell it for the next five years.”  Meanwhile, also according to the news service, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said that, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission respects the law as passed in California, and its implementation starting this week.”  McClatchy-Tribune explained that the law bans six phthalates found in some children’s toys containing plastic and requires that substitutes used in place of the chemical be less toxic.

McClatchy-Tribune also pointed out that during 2008, the San Francisco Department of the Environment tested a variety toys manufactured with polyvinyl chloride, a chemical that can contain high levels of phthalates.  Debbie Raphael, who manages the department’s toxics reduction program, told McClatchy-Tribune that about half of the toys tested contained the toxin and that while in one case a toy had none, its copied version had 40 percent.  Weil told the news service he is worried about “deep discount” stores because they tend to purchase older stock from other stores and could potentially sell phthalate-heavy items manufactured before the ban date.

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