These days, parents are inundated with information on how to “keep kids safe”. It seems there are hundreds of news reports released each week citing the latest studies on what you should or should not exposure your kids to. Recently, there has been an overwhelming amount of media reports on the dangers of exposing children to certain chemicals found in plastic, specifically phthalates.
While it is important that parents be aware of potential household dangers, these chemicals are no cause for alarm. There are several real and more serious risks present in our homes that have the potential to make our families sick.
To help cut through the clutter, the Child Safety Task Force has compiled a list of the top ten real risks to kids that parents should be aware of. Here is what made the list:
This list is based on substantiated reports by reputable organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Centers for Disease Control. In contrast, the scares over plastic additive chemicals like phthalates are often based on flawed science and hyped media reports. Parents have a right to be concerned about their children’s safety, but they must be given accurate and complete information to make proper decisions when purchasing products for their kids.
It is important that consumers understand that not all phthalates are the same, as they are a class of chemicals with different toxicity profiles. The primary phthalate used in children’s toys like rubber duckies, has been tested by numerous government and regulatory bodies and has been verified as safe. This specific chemical, known as DINP, has been deemed safe by the CPSC, the National Toxicology Program’s Center for Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, and the European Union.
Regardless of the scientific evidence, political pressure forced Congress to take action on phthalates. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) went into effect in February and includes a temporary ban on some phthalates like DINP. This provision mandates that manufacturers replace DINP with alternative plasticizers. But there is one major problem that Congress failed to consider— none of the available alternatives have been tested or approved by a U.S. government agency.
The CPSC will issue a final ruling on DINP upon completion of something known as a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) review on these phthalates and their alternatives. Ironically, a previous CHAP panel on DINP completed in 2001 found there was “no demonstrated health risk” and led the CPSC to conclude that there was “no justification for banning its use.”
So in an effort to create higher standards for our children’s products, Congress has actually lowered them.
Instead of promoting anxiety around products which have been tested and proven safe, child safety advocates should devote their concerns to more pressing child safety issues, including those products which remain untested.