08/01/2008 - Congress has passed sweeping legislation to improve the safety of toys and other consumer products.
The bill — approved by the Senate Thursday night and the House of Representatives Tuesday — follows a rising tide of public concern over product safety, spurred by recalls of 45 million children's toys and products last year and growing worry over chemicals in plastic. The measure, which passed with "veto-proof" majorities, now goes to President Bush, who has not threatened to reject it.
The bill virtually eliminates lead in children's toys and bans six types of chemicals, called phthalates, that have hormone-like effects. Lead can cause both brain damage and behavioral problems in children. A number of animal studies and a few in humans have linked phthalates to early puberty in girls, genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys and impaired sperm quality in men.
Others say the reform is long overdue. Andy Igrejas, manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts' environmental health campaign, says environmentalists have been calling for a phthalate ban in toys for 10 years.
Read the full article Not Toying Around: Congress OKs Bill to Ban Chemicals in Some Products on USA Today's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Environmental Health Project (Kid-Safe Chemicals) on PewHealth.org.