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Parents, Health Advocates Outraged by Consumer Safety Agency's Attempts to Gut Toxic Toys Law

Toys with phthalates could remain on shelves indefinitely under law's latest interpretation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 24, 2008
Contact: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246 cell,

San Francisco – Thousands of parents and public health advocates are expressing outrage at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s interpretation of a law that bans phthalates from toys. Last week, the CPSC announced it will allow the sale of any toys manufactured before the ban goes into effect on February 10, 2009 for as long as inventories last. Advocates are calling this interpretation negligent, saying that it violates Congressional intent, sends a signal to industry that they can keep selling toxic toys, and leaves children at risk.

Congress passed the law as part of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act in order to protect young children from chemicals that have been linked to early puberty (a risk factor for breast cancer), birth defects and testicular cancer. “Congress spoke loud and clear when it banned phthalates from toys,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund. “The CPSC is not only flouting Congress, it is putting parents in an impossible situation – forcing them to become chemists and detectives to determine which toys are safe and which are unsafe.”

Parents groups are also speaking out. “Protecting our health and safety is one of the most fundamental roles of government,” said Joan Blades, co-founder of MomsRising, “and we have a right to expect our government to ensure that the products sold in our stores are safe. When Congress enacts a law that bans a toxic chemical, the Administration has an obligation to enforce that law, rather than leaving America's children at risk. Moms and dads – all of us – have a right to expect better.”

Advocates and parents say they worked hard for this law, and they will not stand by and watch it be tampered with. “The evidence of harm to children’s health is clear,” said Nudelman. “The Breast Cancer Fund and other public health organizations saw this law as an indication that our government was finally coming to terms with the fact that our system of chemical regulation is broken. Now, with the CPSC essentially allowing phthalate manufacturers like Exxon Mobil and the toy industry to rewrite the terms of the ban, the Commission is obstructing the path toward responsible chemicals policy.”

Nudelman and Blades said that the CPSC will hear from thousands of parents and concerned citizens that its interpretation of the law is unacceptable. They remain optimistic that the Commission will reverse its ruling and implement a full ban on February 10, as Congress intended.


The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer.