Finally, CPSC denies petition to ban phthalates

Finally, CPSC denies petition to ban phthalates – United States. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Nearly five years of research by CPSC, countless studies, convening of a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel and the conduct of a mouthing behavior study have finally been concluded. The Commission voted by ballot on Feb. 21 to deny a petition by Greenpeace and twelve other proregulatory groups to ban polyvinyl chloride (PVCs) in children’s soft vinyl toys. (9)

The vote was 3-0 to deny.

“Consumers may have a high level of assurance that soft plastic products pose no risk to children,” according to Commissioner Mary Sheila Gall.

CPSC docketed the petition in December 1998.

The staff briefing package detailed the exhaustive scientific research done by CPSC and others. The key conclusion is in a memo from Dr. Marilyn L. Wind, CPSC’s Deputy Associate Executive Director, Directorate for Health Sciences:

“Based upon the scientific data presented in this

briefing package, the staff believes that there is no

demonstrated health risk posed by PVC toys or other

products intended for children 5 years of age and under

and thus, no justification for either banning PVC use in

toys and other products intended for children five years

of age and under or for issuing a national advisory on

the health risks associated with soft plastic toys.” (10)

The petitioners had alleged that young children mouthing toys made with PVCs were exposed to a potentially toxic dose of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), a plasticiser, and toxic doses of lead and cadmium. The alleged health risk was of potential liver and kidney damage to children.

A Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) convened by CPSC reported in June 2001 that “for the majority of children, the exposure to DINP from DINP-containing toys would be expected to pose a minimal to non-existent risk of injury.” (11)

The petitioners also cited the alleged health risks of lead and cadmium. In November 1997, the CPSC staff issued a report on the issue, detailing the results of testing done on children’s products. CPSC staff concluded then that some of the toys tested contained lead and cadmium, but that no hazardous amounts of those elements were released from the toys. (12)

Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, observed, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission did the right thing last week in ruling rubber duckies and other vinyl toys pose ‘no demonstrated health risks’ to children. This should end a long-running controversy contrived by environmental extremists.” (13)

Milloy noted that the chemical DINP has been used for more than 50 years in applications such as flooring, wall coverings, carpet backing, cable sheathing and toys.

“There are no reports of harm caused by DINP in commercial products,” (14) he wrote.

Milloy concludes that the petitioners are not really concerned about health risks to children posed by PVCs in toys.

“The attack on DINP is simply a tactical ploy to advance the Green’s broader war against the element chlorine–a key ingredient in the production of innumerable consumer products, including PVC,” (15) Milloy wrote.

Milloy observed that about 12 million tons of chlorine are produced annually in North America for multiple industrial uses, and that a ban on chlorine “would risk public health and cost consumers more than $90 billion per year for alternative products …” (16)

Since this attack on PVC has been blocked, where will the environmental extremists turn for their next foray against chlorine?

(9) See CPSC Monitor, “Still No CPSC Decision on Phthalates,” December 2002, Vol. 7, Issue 12, and “Public Briefing on Phthalates Petition May be Nov. 8,” October 2002, Vol. 7, Issue 10.

(10) Memorandum from Marilyn L. Wind, Ph.D., Deputy Associate Executive Director, Directorate for Health Sciences to the Commission. Response to Petition HP 99-1, August 13, 2002.

(11) Report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission by the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel on Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP), June 2001.

(12) CPSC Staff Report on Lead and Cadmium in Children’s Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Products, November 1997.

(13) Milloy, Steven, “Consumer Watchdog: Vinyl Toys Are Just Ducky.” February 28, 2003,,2933,79861,00.html

(14) Ibid.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Ibid.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Consumer Alert

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group