July 29, 2008 — -- Congress today approved a nationwide ban on phthalates, a group of harmful chemicals, from children's products after some studies linked them to a variety of long-term health issues.
Phthalates, commonly added to plastic products to make them soft and pliable, are found in a variety of children's products, like teething rings, rubber ducks and soft books, as well as common household items, like vinyl shower curtains, nail polish and paint.
Studies have shown that toxins can be ingested when toys with phthalates are placed in the mouth, making them particularly dangerous in children's toys. Serious long-term side effects, such as hormone malfunctioning, especially in boys, and reproductive defects, have been linked to these harmful chemicals. But the results of these studies are still a source of contention among environmental researchers.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission imposed a permanent ban on three dangerous phthalates -- DEHP, DBP and BBP -- in products marketed to children younger than 12.
In February, Wal-Mart, Toys 'R' Us and Target banned children's products with phthalates from their stores, beginning in January 2009. Congress' ban will go into effect in six months, which means some toys will remain on store shelves during the holidays.
To learn more about phthalates and what is in your child's toys, check out these links: