Scientists Debate Safety of Chemicals in Children’s Products
Scientists at a joint hearing of the Assembly Health and Environment committees debated a bill (AB 319) that would ban the use of phthalates and bisphenol A in products intended for children younger than age three, the Sacramento Bee reports (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 1/11).
Some human studies have associated phthalates -- used in the manufacture of soft vinyl -- with changes in sperm, genitals and hormone production. One study found exposure to the chemical slightly altered the genitalia of baby boys. Phthalates have also been shown to mimic estrogen or block testosterone in animals (Cone, Los Angeles Times, 1/11).
Bisphenol A, the main ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, has been associated with altering the function of the thyroid, brain and pancreas; altering hormone levels and behavior; and increasing the secretion of insulin, which could lead to obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes (Kay, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/11).
Supporters of the bill, introduced two years ago by Assembly member Wilma Chan (D-Alameda), say the chemical should be banned in teething toys, bath toys, baby bottles and other children's products because safer alternatives are available.
Opponents say there is not enough evidence that shows the chemicals are dangerous, and the bill would limit consumer choice.
If the bill passes, California would be the first state to regulate the chemicals. The Assembly must approve the bill before the end of the month or it will expire (Los Angeles Times, 1/11).