Andy Igrejas, manager of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Environmental Health campaign, today issued the following statement in response to the ban on phthalates in children's toys and childcare articles that was included in the conference agreement on the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act.
“We applaud the conference committee's decision to remove phthalates from toys. The CPSC was petitioned ten years ago to take this step. Today's action is long overdue and, if implemented correctly, it will reduce a health risk to children.
"However, this debate has underlined how profoundly our regulatory process is broken, not just for toys but for chemicals in general. Chemicals are allowed on the market without having to undergo a thorough safety review. Even after health problems become apparent, our consumer and environmental agencies are virtually paralyzed. The delay in addressing the health hazards of phthalates is unfortunately the rule, rather than the exception. And children will still be affected by phthalates in other consumer products like flooring, shower curtains, and cosmetics.
“That Congress responded to this health threat in lieu of Federal agencies is yet another illustration of the broken regulatory system. A better approach is to require chemical manufacturers to prove their products are safe before exposing consumers to them. The Kid-Safe Chemical Act, introduced in May by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Representatives Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) would do just that by overhauling how the EPA handles the 80,000+ chemicals in consumer products. Phthalates in toys are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Environmental Health Project (Kid-Safe Chemicals) on PewHealth.org.