Congress agrees on product-safety bill banning phthalates, lowering lead in toys
The U.S. House and Senate have agreed to a compromise product-safety bill that would ban phthalates from children’s toys, lower toy lead levels, and require third-party safety testing before toys are put on the market. In 2007, some 45 million toys were recalled for high lead levels and other safety defects, and the resulting parental and consumer outrage eventually prompted congressional action. Plenty of studies have come out lately hinting that phthalates may not be safe for use in children’s products, and some major retailers have already responded, agreeing to phase out phthalates in some children’s products. If the product-safety bill makes it past President Bush, the phthalate ban would take effect nationwide in six months. It would permanently outlaw three types of phthalates and temporarily ban three others until a safety study can be completed. ExxonMobil and other chemical manufacturers lobbied hard against the phthalate ban, fearing its success would only embolden regulation advocates. The chemical industry claims that banning phthalates may ultimately be bad for kids since the chemicals that arise to replace them could harm children even more.