US Congress bans phthalates in child products

28 July 2008 23:29  [Source: ICIS news]

Congress bans products in child productsWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The US Congress agreed on Monday to an outright ban on some phthalates in children’s toys and child care items and an interim prohibition on other phthalates pending further research on their impact on infant health.


Senate and House conference committee members announced the phthalates ban as part of a final bill to reform and expand the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the principal US watchdog agency for end-use consumer products.


The Senate and House had earlier passed separate and different measures that had to be combined in a single bill acceptable to both chambers.


“This commonsense piece of legislation takes measurable and concrete steps to protect consumers and children,” said Congressman John Dingell (Democrat-Michigan).


The commission reform bill as approved by the House-Senate conference committee boosts the CPSC’s budget to $118m (€75.5m) in fiscal year 2010, expanding to $136m in 2015.


On the phthalates issue, the legislators agreed to modified language that would permanently prohibit the sale of children’s toys or child care articles that contain more than 0.1% di-(2 ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). 


The sale of children’s toys or child care articles containing concentrations of more than 0.1% of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) will be prohibited on an interim basis.


Whether the temporary prohibition on those three phthalates will be made permanent will be decided at some future date after a scientific review by a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP).


“We reached a sensible compromise on the use of phthalates,” said Representative Joe Barton (Republican-Texas).


“Nobody wants our kids to be the guinea pigs in a quest for better living through chemistry, but it’s also imperative that we use unbiased, confirmable science to sort out the real dangers from the mythical ones,” Barton said. 


The make-up of that advisory panel was not immediately detailed, but such advisory bodies typically include regulators, academics, scientists and others.  After the panel studies each of the three phthalates subject to the interim ban, the CPSC will then decide whether to lift the temporary prohibition in toys and child care products or make the ban permanent.


US chemical and plastics industries officials were not immediately available late on Monday for comment on the final phthalates ban measure, but industry had opposed a prohibition on phthalates on grounds there was no scientific evidence of human health harm and that alternative plasticizers might pose unknown risks.


The final compromise bill, called a conference report, must now be voted on by both the House and Senate, but approval by both chambers is virtually assured, and President George Bush is expected to sign the measure into law.


($1 = €0.64)


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By: Joe Kamalick
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