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Congress Set to Protect NY Kids from Toxics

July 31, 2008

Albany, NY – New York consumer advocates are applauding Congress' action on phthalates, a controversial family of chemicals that studies have linked to cancer and reproductive problems. Of particular concern is that the toxins can be ingested when toddlers put toys with those additives in their mouths.

Bobbi Chase Wilding, organizing director of the group Clean New York, says the chemical additive will be banned from children's products within six months.

"The Congressional ban is for the three phthalates that are most common, from all children's toys to the age of twelve and childcare products including shampoos, conditioners and lotions intended for children up to age three."

Companies that produce the plastic additives argue they have been in use for 50 years and are among the substances that have undergone the most testing. But Wilding says her concern stems from the fact that, in some cases, these chemicals appear on the labels of such products as shampoo described only as "fragrances." She feels that's misleading to consumers.

Andy Igrejas, manager of the The Pew Charitable Trusts' Environmental Health campaign, agrees. He adds, with more than 80,000 chemicals in consumer products today, the ban on some phthalates in toys is just the start.

"By focusing on phthalates in children's products, such as toys and shampoos, Congress has opened a window into the broader issues of chemicals and their safety for children."

New York lawmakers made several attempts to ban the additives in the past, but the bills in Albany never came to a final vote. More information on the Pew Environmental Health campaign is available online at www.pewtrusts.org. More information on Clean New York is available at http://www.clean-ny.org.

Michael Clifford/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NY