Letter to U.S. Senators and Reps. urging them to include in the final Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act the Senate language that eliminates phthalates in children’s products and childcare articles

The Honorable Daniel Inouye, Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
The Honorable John Dingell, Chairman, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
The Honorable Mark Pryor, Chairman, Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Insurance, and Automotive Safety
The Honorable Bobby Rush, Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
The Honorable Ted Stevens, Vice Chair, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
The Honorable Joe Barton, Ranking Member, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
The Honorable John Sununu, Ranking Member Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
The Honorable Edward Whitfield, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
The Honorable Cliff Stearns
The Honorable Janice Schakowsky
The Honorable Henry Waxman
The Honorable Diana DeGette
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
The Honorable Amy Klobuchar
The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison

Re: Joint Conference on H.R. 4040/S. 2663

May 14, 2008

Dear Chairman Pryor:

Our organizations, representing consumers, patients, scientists, and advocates for children, urge you to include in the final Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act the Senate language that eliminates phthalates in children’s products and childcare articles.

Phthalates are synthetic chemicals found in everyday products, including plastic toys and children’s products. Phthalates escape out of products and migrate into the air, the food supply, and the human body.

Banning phthalates in toys and children’s products will reduce potentially dangerous exposures that could harm children’s development and increase children’s risk of developing cancer and reproductive problems as adults.

Evidence Links Phthalates to Adverse Health Effects in Humans

  • Prenatal phthalate exposure can harm reproductive development in male humans.
  • Boys exposed to phthalates were more likely to have testicles that were less descended and smaller penis size.
  • Changes in boys’ testicular descent are consistent with those reported in rodent studies for the phthalates considered the most toxic, DEHP and DBP.
  • Humans may be more sensitive to prenatal phthalate exposure than rodents.  Significant changes in boys were seen at doses that do not cause effects in rodents.

Infants Exposed to Phthalates

  • Infants are typically exposed to phthalates through toys, teethers, and health care products.
  • Infants may be more vulnerable to developmental and reproductive toxicity of phthalates due to their immature metabolic system capability.
  • More research is needed to determine whether childhood phthalate exposure leads to future health problems.
  • Prenatal exposures to phthalates observed in animal studies are similar to those reported in human studies-problems with sperm count and fertility.
  • There is clear research evidence that children born with undescended testicles are more likely to have testicular cancer as adults.

Widespread Phthalate Exposure in the U.S.

  • Phthalates are ubiquitous in our environment due in large part to their use in plastics and cosmetic products.
  • Common phthalates in plastic toys and pacifiers are DiNP and DEHP, which are thought to leach into children’s saliva from oral sucking/mouthing behaviors.
  • The widespread use of phthalates in consumer and personal care products results in frequent human exposure through multiple sources.
  • The Centers for Disease Control, using a national sample of thousands has demonstrated detectable levels of nine phthalate metabolites in the majority of men, women, and children in the U. S.
  • Children between the ages of 6 to 11 had higher concentrations of MBP, a DBP metabolite; MBzP, a metabolite of BBzp; and MEHP, a metabolite of DEHP, compared with adults.

Phthalates and Race

  • African American children aged 6 to 12 had higher concentrations of urinary MEP, the urinary metabolite of diethyl phthalate, the phthalate widely used in personal care products.

Phthalates Concentration in Humans Remain Stable

  • Phthalates are not bioaccumulative; however, studies suggest that phthalate concentration in humans is fairly stable (i.e., does not change over time), possibly because of their frequent use in products that are coated with phthalates.

Phthalates Banned

  • In 2006, the European Union banned the use of 6 phthalates in polyvinyl chloride toys that are likely to be placed in the mouth by children younger than 3.  The banned phthalates are:  DiNP, DEHP, DBP, di-isodecyl phthalate, DNOP, and BBzP.
  • In the United States, California and Washington have banned phthalates and other states are considering bans. Therefore, the state savings clause must remain in the CPSC Reform Act.

Because evidence indicates that phthalates are harmful to humans, that their concentrations remain stable in humans, and that phthalates may lead to serious long-term health problems (such as cancer and reproductive problems), we strongly urge the conference committee members to ensure that the final bill includes a provision that bans phthalates in children’s toys and products.

Sincerely,

Consumer Federation of America
Consumers Union
Government Accountability Project
Kids in Danger
National Consumer League
National Research Center for Women & Families
Our Bodies Ourselves
Public Citizen
U.S. PIRG

Abbreviations: BBzP-butybenzyl phthalate; BzBP-benzylbutyl;  DBP-dibutyl phthalate; DEHP-di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate; DiNP-di-isononyl phthalate; MBP-mono-n-butyl phthalate; MBzP-monobenzyl phthalate; MEHP-mono-2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl phthalate; MEP-monoethyl phthalate; MiBP-mono-isobutyl phthalate; MMP-mono-methyl phthalate.

For more information, contact Paul Brown, Government Affairs Manager, National Research Center for Women & Families, (202) 223-4000 or pb@center4research.org