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Breast Cancer Fund Applauds Congress for Protecting Children from Harmful Chemicals in Toys

Senator Feinstein's Amendment Further Strengthens Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 06, 2008
Contacts: Janet Nudelman, Breast Cancer Fund, (415) 346-8223 ext. 24, janet@breastcancerfund.org; Nancy Buermeyer, The Raben Group, (202) 466-2220, nancyb@rabengroup.com

WASHINGTON D.C.— As the Senate acted to reform and strengthen the Consumer Products Safety Commission this week, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) led the movement to include a ban on a dangerous class of chemicals from children’s toys. The amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act (S. 2663) was adopted today by voice vote. The CPSC Reform Act passed shortly thereafter by an overwhelming vote of 79-13.

Following numerous scares about the safety of toys over the recent holiday season, the Senate has acted to bring the United States into the community of nations that already ban dangerous chemicals called phthalates from toys, including the European Union and many others.

“These dangerous chemicals have no place in our children’s toys,” said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund. “We applaud Senator Feinstein’s leadership to protect our children from dangerous substances. This legislation will truly protect our children and give parents the peace of mind that they are not inadvertently giving their children toys that may expose them to unsafe chemicals linked to dangerous health consequences.”

As proposed in the Senate, Senator Feinstein’s amendment will require that all child care products and children’s toys sold throughout the United States be free of chemical plasticizers called phthalates (pronounced “THA-lates"). Scientists worldwide have linked phthalates to lowered sperm counts, testicular cancer, liver problems, and early onset of puberty which is linked to later life breast cancer.

Children are particularly susceptible to harm. Found in rubber duckies, teething rings, bath books, and other soft plastic toys, phthalates have been shown to leech out of toys and into children’s bodies when they suck or chew on them. Soft toys can be made without the toxicant, but prior to this legislative ban there was no surefire way for parents to determine which toys were toxic and which were phthalate-free.

“This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s families,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund. “We are extremely pleased to have played a leadership role in raising awareness about the need to protect children from future harm by eliminating dangerous, unsafe and unnecessary exposures to toxic chemicals in the products they play with every day. We extend deep gratitude to Senator Feinstein for her important leadership on this issue.”

Phthalates are already banned in children’s toys by state law in California, and nine other states are currently considering bans. The Senate passed the amendment following a steady drumbeat of support for the legislation by parents and dozens of health-focused organizations, including the Breast Cancer Fund (additional supporting organizations listed below).

Due to differences between the House and Senate versions of the Consumer Products Safety Commission reform legislation, the two chambers must now appoint a conference committee to resolve differences and come to agreement on the bill. The Senate will urge the House to include their ban on phthalates in that final version.

###

More than two dozen groups supported Senator Feinstein’s amendment. They include:

Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Fund
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
Clean Water Action Alliance of Massachusetts
Coalition for Clean Air
Commonweal
Environment California
Healthy Child Healthy World
Health Education and Resources
Healthy Building Network
Healthy Children Organizing Project
INND (Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders)
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Institute for Children's Environmental Health
MOMS (Making Our Milk Safe)
Minnesota PIRG
Olympic Environmental Council
Oregon Center for Environmental Health
Oregon Environmental Council
PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth & her Resources)
Safe Food and Fertilizer
Sources for Sustainable Communities
The Annie Appleseed Project
US PIRG
WashPIRG
Washington Toxics Coalition
WHEN (Women's Health & Environmental Network)

The following countries have banned or restricted phthalates in children’s toys and products:

Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
United Kingdom
Argentina
Japan
Fiji
Korea
Mexico

The eight other states considering similar bans are: Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, West Virginia, Massachusetts and New York.