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Congress Moves To Ban Toxins In Children’s Toys

August 1, 2008

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Legislature has taken steps to make children's toys safer, and Congress is about to do the same. This week, a ban on certain chemicals used to make toys softer and more pliable was attached to a bill to increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Tennessee Rep. Gordon Bart co-sponsored the legislation, which gives a helping hand to the state's earlier efforts to enact a similar ban.

Andy Igrejas, manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts environmental health campaign, says the move is a positive step forward, but it doesn't completely protect children from phthalates, which have been found to cause cancer and reproductive problems.

"Children are exposed to phthalates from products like shower curtains and vinyl flooring. They're also exposed to other chemicals, some of which have toxic properties."

The debate over phthalates highlights a regulatory system that is ineffective and in need of reform, Igrejas contends. He argues that consumers deserve better protections.

"This kind of thing isn't an aberration. The policy that is supposed to make sure chemicals are safe really doesn't work."

Critics of the ban say some phthalates are safe for children, and a White House spokesman has indicated President Bush may veto the legislation. Three states and Europe already have banned the chemical.

The ban on phthalates is part of the Consumer Product Safety Act, which has passed the House. It is expected to pass easily in the Senate, as well.

Barbara Dab/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - TN