Federal health officials have voted in favor of banning certain harmful phthalate chemicals used during the production of vinyl and soft plastic children’s toys, which have been linked to adverse health consequences.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a phthalate ban last week, after officials voted 3-2 in favor of prohibiting children’s toys and child care products from containing more than 0.1 percent of certain phthalate chemicals that may expose children to dangerous side effects.
Based on the recommendations from the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP), the CPSC ruled on October 18, 2017 that an additional five phthalate chemicals should be banned from children’s toys and child care products.
The CPSC and CHAP have been working towards banning additional phthalate chemicals from children’s products, as recent studies have found exposure of the chemicals to children can result in short term and long term adverse health consequences.
In 2008, Congress permanently prohibited children’s toys and child care articles from containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of three phthalates, when they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).
Previously banned phthalate chemicals under the ACT were di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). The newest ruling also bans concentrations of more than 0.1 in child products for diisononyl phthalate (DINP),di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP).
Phthalates are a class of industrial compounds commonly known as plasticizers. The chemicals are often used to make plastic more flexible or to help cosmetics slide on more smoothly.
In addition to toys, phthalates are found in food packaging, detergents, textiles, plastic tubing used in hospitals to deliver medications, the coatings on pills, including some aspirin, and many other products. They are known endocrine disruptors, which interfere with the natural way the body regulates and produces hormones. Studies have found phthalates may contribute to a slew of side effects, including birth defects, cancer, diabetes and infertility.
A study released in March by CHAP concluded that phthalate exposure can lead to reduced anogenital distance (AGD) in boys and other sexual developmental problems. As a result, the panel recommends that many iterations of the chemical should be permanently banned from children’s toys.
Previous studies, such as a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2011 found phthalates interfere with the proper functioning of the thyroid and can result in a decrease in thyroid hormones by 10 percent following high exposure to the chemical.
The rules will apply to children’s toys which are defined by the CPSIA as products designed or intended by the manufacturer for play by a child 12 years of age or younger, and child care articles which are defined as consumer products intended or manufactured to help facilitate sleep or the feeding of children age three and younger, or to help children sucking or teething.
The new rule is set to be finalized and will take effect 180 days after publication in the Federal Register, in which all manufactures will be obligated to comply with the new standards.