San Francisco set to enact first-in-nation ban on toxics in baby toys

Next week, San Francisco will become the first U.S. city to ban the manufacture, distribution, and sale of baby toys containing chemicals linked to cancer and developmental delays. The prime targets — bisphenol A and phthalates — have been found in everything from rubber duckies to teething rings to bathtime books. Concerned advocates say the chemicals can leach out when babies do that gnawing, gumming, sucking thing. “Protections for children from chemicals in toys are weak at best and dysfunctional at worst,” says Joel Tickner, environmental health professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. “Consumers would be astonished if they knew that federal laws regulating chemicals in children’s toys all require balancing the benefits of protecting children with the costs to industry of implementing safer alternatives.” (Yes, knock us over with a feather.) Industry, kicking and screaming all the way, has sued to block enforcement of the E.U.-inspired ban, which takes effect Dec. 1.