For Immediate Release: July 31, 2008
Contact: Mike Shriberg, Ecology Center: 734-761-3186 x108
Congress Takes First Step Toward “Healthy Toys”
HealthyToys.org, Michigan state action pave way for safer children’s products
Ann Arbor, MI – A Congressional Committee chaired by Representative John Dingell (M-15) finalized the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act to include provisions to set first-ever national standards on lead in toys and ban the plasticizer phthalates from children’s toys and childcare articles. This landmark legislation, which validates the concerns of scientists and parents by moving toward safer toys, is set to the pass through Congress tomorrow.
“This legislation is a major step forward in the battle for children’s health and safety,” said Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Policy Director for the Ecology Center. “The chemical industry spent millions of dollars trying to defeat this bill’s provisions to protect children yet Congress still took the first step toward reforming the way chemicals are regulated. This shows that consumers and parents can triumph over the deep pockets of the chemical industry and that toxic chemicals have no place in kid’s products.”
With the strong urging of the Ecology Center and the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, Michigan was one of only 2 states to set standards for lead in toys by the end of 2007. The federal legislation takes the next step in strengthening these standards to protect Michigan’s children.
During the holiday season in 2007, the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center launched the enormously successful HealthyToys.org database, the nation’s first consumer database on toxic chemicals in children’s products. The widespread attention that HealthyToys received and the consumer outrage that ensued from demonstrating that toxic chemicals were regularly present in children’s product helped launch the national movement toward safer toys.
The Act, which is anticipated to easily make it through Congress, phases in a 100 part per million (ppm) standard for lead in children’s toy, bans 3 phthalates immediately, and bans 3 other phthalates while conducting further scientific review. It also significantly increases the enforcement authority and staffing for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the much-criticized agency responsibility for ensuring the safety of toys. The lead standard recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 40 ppm.
“This legislation sets an important precedent by taking a precautionary approach to protecting our children,” said Tracey Easthope, MPH, Environmental Health Director for the Ecology Center. “What sounds like commonsense is, in reality, a paradigm shift for Congress and a major victory for children’s health and environmental health.”
“We thank Congressmen Dingell for shepherding the passage of the first of many steps to reform the country’s broken chemical regulatory system,” said Shriberg. “The debates about lead, phthalates and the CPSC laid bare the weaknesses in our federal protection system. With Congressmen Dingell’s ongoing commitment to strong regulatory oversight, including his recent actions questioning the EPA’s cozy relationship with the chemical industry, we expect strong leadership on a full agenda to reform the nation’s chemical policies.”
The Ecology Center and partner organizations plan to launch an updated version of the HealthyToys.org consumer database in time for this year’s holiday season.
The Ecology Center is a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental organization that works at the local, state, and national levels for clean production, healthy communities, environmental justice, and a sustainable future.