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Johnson & Johnson
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Michigan Families Dump Hundreds of Toxic Toys

Parents Call on Congress to Protect Kids from Dangerous Chemicals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3, 2008
Contact: Margot Friedman 202-332-5550, Katie Kelly 734-646-2119

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan parents, children and children’s health advocates came together today at Wheeler Park to “dump” toxic toys and call on Congress to support legislation protecting kids from dangerous chemicals.

While the nation has been focused on lead contamination in toys which prompted mass recalls last year, toxic chemicals called phthalates are also widespread in toys and still legal in most states. Some phthalates have been linked to a number of serious health problems including birth defects, early puberty in girls (a risk factor for breast cancer) and testicular cancer. Right now in Washington, DC, the U.S. Senate and House are debating a consumer protection bill that includes a ban on the use of these toxic chemicals in children’s toys.

“I try to do what's best for my kids,” said local mom Jessica Kelly-Shaieb, “so I was shocked when I found out that some of their favorite toys contain dangerous toxic chemicals. Parents have enough to worry about. It’s time for the government to take action to ensure that the toys we buy for our children aren’t toxic.”

Phthalates make plastic toys like rubber ducks and bath books soft and flexible. When kids put these toys in their mouths, the phthalates can easily leach from toy to child. A ban on the use of phthalates in children’s toys and childcare articles was recently included in the U.S. Senate’s version of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act, but the House version of the bill had no such ban. U.S. Representative John Dingell (D- Michigan) has been appointed to serve on the small, bi-partisan Conference Committee that will decide whether the ban is included in the final legislation. He will be a key voice in determining whether kids across the nation are protected from these dangerous chemicals.   

“Representative Dingell has a long history of advocating on behalf of important children’s health and environmental issues. Michigan parents and parents everywhere are hoping they can count on his leadership, once again, to support this critical measure and ask his House colleagues to do the same,” said Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Policy Director at the Ecology Center.

“California and Washington have banned phthalates in toys, and ten other states have introduced similar measures,” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy for the Breast Cancer Fund. “Now, Congress has the opportunity to make sure kids in every state are protected from these toxic chemicals in their toys.”

Phthalates are currently banned or restricted in the European Union and more than a dozen countries around the world including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Mexico, Norway and Sweden.  Retailers and manufacturers including Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, Lego, Evenflo and Gerber have recently announced that they will phase out or eliminate phthalates due to parent concern.