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Still no CPSC [Chemical Processing Safety Committee] decision on phthalates.

As reported in the October issue of CPSC Monitor, Commissioners were then considering casting ballot votes on the Greenpeace petition to ban toys containing phthalates very shortly. (1) The staff had recommended denial of the petition, and the matter seemed almost closed. (CPSC has been studying this issue since it first received the petition in 1998.)

But at the dawn of 2003, that issue is still not resolved. CPSC spokesmen say that Commissioners requested more information, partly about actions taken against phthalates in toys in Europe and in Japan and partly relating to the behavioral study and the scientific studies used. Before a final vote is cast, staff must do more research and prepare written answers to the Commissioners' questions. Few are predicting when the vote will occur. CPSC spokesmen say it is likely that the vote will still be by ballot, rather than in a public meeting.

Petitioners had contended there were chronic health hazards associated with the use of the chemicals in children's toys. But CPSC staff recommended against the ban, after having completed an extensive study that showed that children spend less time actually mouthing toys containing polyvinyl chloride (phthalates) than previously assumed. CPSC staff says it could find no evidence of a health hazard since there was not enough exposure to be a problem.

A Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) of independent scientists convened by CPSC reported last year that "for the majority of children, exposure to toys containing DINP (2) can be expected to pose a minimal to non-existent risk of injury."

In spite of fifty years' safe use of DINP in such products, some self-appointed consumer watchdogs have played on the fears of caring parents by claiming that the chemical was harmful. Such fear mongering was given much media play, but the work of the CHAP and the work of many other independent scientific groups proves those fears were groundless.

The Monitor hopes that CPSC's Commissioners will avoid further delay in resolving the issue.

(1) "Public Briefing on Phthalates Petition May Be Nov. 8," CPSC Monitor, October, 2002, Vol. 7, issue 10.

(2) Diisononyl phthalate--a chemical used to soften plastic used in certain products, such as toys.
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Publication:CPSC Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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