Toxic Toys Banned

For years, consumer advocacy groups have been complaining about the high volume of toxic chemicals in toys. There have been several studies published that link these toxins to reproductive development problems in children who simply play with the toys and put them in their mouths. Finally, Congress is stepping in to regulate the use of these toxic chemicals in toys.

Yesterday, a group of Congressional negotiators came to an agreement over how and when toxic chemicals would no longer be used in toy manufacturing. Congress wasn't necessarily the leader in blocking the toxic chemicals, called phthalates. The state of California, Toys 'R Us, Babies 'R Us and Wal-Mart have already refused to sell products made of the toxic chemicals. But the Congressional action is an important step to making sure all retail outlets will be selling products that are safer for children and pregnant mothers.

President Bush does not support the toxic chemical ban. He has yet to decide if he is going to veto any legislation that includes it. His position more closely mirrors that of the House of Representatives where passage of the ban was not certain. The Senate seemed more willing to move forward on the ban. Exxon-Mobile has spend $22 million trying to prevent this ban, they manufacture many of the chemicals that would be prohibited.

These phthalates are common in more than just toys. They are present in shampoo, perfumes and lotions as well. A Food and Drug Administration study on the presence of phthalates in people showed that all 1,000 of the study's subjects contained some level of phthalates in their systems. The Congressional ban will affect three toxic chemicals in toys.

The chemical industry has tried making the same argument big tobacco had tried making for years. They submit the results of their own studies as fact, while undermining the credibility of independently conducted studies that don't include results they approve. In fact, Keith Hennessey, director of Bush's Economic Policy Council, argued to the Senate that banning these chemicals could actually hurt children because, "Banning a product before a conclusive, scientific determination is reached is short-sighted and may result in the introduction of unregulated substitute chemicals that harm children's health."

Of course the true path forward that Mr. Hennessey ignores is to acknowledge the studies that show these chemicals have a negative impact on children's health and tightening our testing process to stop future toxic chemicals from reaching our kids.

Read the full Washington Post story on the ban HERE.

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