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Congress passes key standards on dangerous chemicals in children’s toys

First standards on lead, ban on some plasticizers included
A Congressional Committee chaired by Michigan Congressman John Dingell finalized the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act to include provisions to set first-ever national standards on lead in toys and ban the plasticizer phthalates from children’s toys and childcare articles. This landmark legislation, which validates the concerns of scientists and parents by moving toward safer toys, was passed by both Houses of Congress in late July and was awaiting President George W. Bush’s signature at press time.

“This legislation is a major step forward in the battle for children’s health and safety,” said Mike Shriberg, PhD, policy director for the Ecology Center. “The chemical industry spent millions of dollars trying to defeat this bill’s provisions to protect children, yet Congress still took the first step toward reforming the way chemicals are regulated. This shows that consumers and parents can triumph over the deep pockets of the chemical industry and that toxic chemicals have no place in kids’ products.”

With the strong urging of the Ecology Center, MEC and the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, Michigan was one of only two states to set standards for lead in toys by the end of 2007. The federal legislation takes the next step in strengthening these standards to protect Michigan’s children.

During the holiday season in 2007, the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center launched the enormously successful HealthyToys.org database, the nation’s first consumer database on toxic chemicals in children’s products.

The widespread attention that HealthyToys received, and the consumer outrage that ensued from demonstrating that toxic chemicals were regularly present in children’s products, helped launch the national movement toward safer toys.

The Act, which easily passed Congress, phases in a 100 parts per million (ppm) standard for lead in children’s toys, bans three phthalates immediately and bans three other phthalates while conducting further scientific review. It also significantly increases the enforcement authority and staffing for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the much-criticized agency responsible for ensuring the safety of toys. The lead standard recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 40 ppm.
RELATED TOPICS: chemical policy, public health
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