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Federal Commission Examines: Are Your Child's Toys Safe?

Federal commission meets to assess: Are your child’s toys safe?

Academics, government scientists, industry, and environmental groups will come together today to discuss an important issue in consumer safety. This week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will host the second meeting of the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on phthalates and phthalate alternatives used in children’s toys and products. This meeting is an important step towards ensuring our children’s safety.

The Child Safety Task Force applauds the CHAP for their efforts in ensuring our children have access to the safest possible products. In order to ensure the products’ safety, we believe the focus of this week’s discussions should be on the assessment of phthalate substitutes.

The CHAP review was mandated by the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The CPSIA placed certain restrictions on phthalates in children’s products. The legislation permanently bans three low molecular weight phthalates and places a temporary prohibition on three high molecular weight phthalates, including DINP—a common plasticizer used to make toys soft and flexible. The CPSC will publish a final rule on the use of these products once the CHAP assessment is complete.

One of the most daunting and important tasks of the CHAP is to review the safety of the alternatives to phthalates. Plasticizers are in high demand as they are found in all different types of consumer products from medical tubing to garden hoses to toys. But, the recent restrictions on phthalates have shifted the demand towards substitute plasticizers. However, none of these products hold the safety record of phthalates like DINP. In fact, none of the alternative products have been found safe for use in children’s toys by a government regulatory or scientific agency.

As parents, we want to ensure the safety of our children’s products and make sure the proper safeguards are in place. So, what is a safer alternative for a product that has already been deemed safe?

DINP has been studied and found safe for use by multiple regulatory agencies including the Consumer Product Safety Commission and National Toxicology Program. A previous CHAP review concluded there are “no demonstrated health risk” from its use in toys and “no justification” for banning its use.

Replacing safe products with less-studied and relatively unknown substitutes could pose serious unintended consequences and consumers will bear the risk. Banning—even temporarily—a proven safe substance from our children’s products exposes them to potential harm.

Confidence in consumer safety can only come from science and thorough risk assessments. The CHAP should put a priority on alternatives to ensure that all plasticizers are held to the same standard of safety. It is vital that we make sure the proposed “safer alternatives” truly earn the right to be called ‘safe’


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