Chemical In Toys Has N.Y. City Council Concerned: Phthalates Are Found In Vinyl Flooring, Garden Hoses
President and CEO Jeffrey Holtzman Testifies About Selling Toys with Phthalates
By Cindy Hsu for CBS, June 29, 2007
(CBS) NEW YORK – There's a push to ban children's toys made with a controversial group of chemicals called Phthalates. On Thursday members of the New York City Council were looking at whether to ban them from store shelves.
Phthalates are a family of compounds made from alcohols and phthalic anhydride. They are oily, colorless, odorless liquids that do not evaporate readily. They are found in plastic children's toys and products to make them soft. The concern is kids are putting the toys in their mouths.
"In laboratory tests these chemicals have shown very severe side effects both causing cancer and having effects in reproductive organs," Councilman Eric Gioia said.
Phthalates are found in many consumer products, including vinyl flooring, automotive plastics, plastic bags, plastic clothing, intravenous medical tubing, garden hoses and personal care products.
Gioia introduced a bill that would ban the sale of toys with Phthalates in New York City. At the hearing Thursday, some testified there is no danger.
"We've looked at them and the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission, our federal agency, has looked at them and found that they're perfectly safe in the use of toys," said Joan Lawrence of the Toy Industry Association.
Dr. Maida Galvez of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine has been studying phthalates for years and said we can't wait for evidence of harm in human studies.
"There's clear evidence of harm in animals and I think that's enough to say that we should protect the health of generations of New York City children," Galvez said.
Toys with Phthalates are already banned across Europe, Mexico, Argentina, Japan and just last year San Francisco.
Jeffrey Holtzman is the head of The Goldberger Co., a doll company that recently stopped using Phthalates.
"It's not a big deal," Holtzman said. "There is a cost involved and that's what it really comes down to."
Toy companies aren't required to list Phthalates on toy packaging, so Councilman Gioia advises the public to look for tags that say Phthalate-free or call the number on the back of their toys to find out if the chemicals are being used.
Gioia said he hopes the City Council will vote on the bill by fall.