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US Congress Examines Use of Phthalates and Bisphenol A In Childrens Toys, Bottles, and Thousands of Other Products

This month, a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee met to examine the way the government handles phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), two chemicals that have been used for over half a century on numerous consumer products. Phthalates is often used to soften plastics, and Bisphenol A is often applied when manufacturing shatterproof containers. One issue of concern is whether these chemicals should be banned from children’s products.
BPA can be found in baby toys, baby bottles, pacifiers, food cans, the linings of milk containers, and other products. While the US Food and Drug Administration says that baby bottles made with BPA are safe for use, government scientists are worried about how these two chemical may be affecting babies.
Recent findings in animal experiments link BPA to changes in the brain and hormones, as well as precancerous growths in the breast and prostate. In the US Senate, Democrats recently introduced a bill to ban Bisphenol A in toys and food products.
Phthalates is often found in teething rings, soft baby books, baby bottles, and other kids’ products, such as dolls and rubber ducks. While the US Consumer Product Safety Commission says that use of this softening chemical does not show any health risks, scientists claim phthalates can cause health problems, including reproductive defects and triggering early puberty in girls, which places them at higher risk for liver cancer and breast cancer.
In response to the growing concerns, Wal-Mart, Lego, Toys”R”Us, Gerber, and Evenflo say they will phase out or stop using phthalates in their products. California and Washington have instituted their own phthalate bans, while other states are considering similar bans. Although the US Senate passed a bill to ban phthalates in products made for children and infants, the House of Representatives has yet to discuss this chemical. The European Union and at least 14 other countries have also banned the phthalates.
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Congress wary of plastics used in toys, bottles, Forbes.com, June 10, 2008
FDA official says baby bottles with bisphenol A safe, AP, June 10, 2008
Related Web Resources:
Toxic Baby Bottles, Environment California
Bisphenol A
Phthalates