State Ban on Plastic Chemical Part of Larger Safety Debate
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) signing this month of a law banning chemical additives called phthalates in children's products marks the first time a state has prohibited the chemicals and signals an important step in international debate over their safety, USA Today reports. Phthalates are chemical additives used to make plastics more pliable (Weise/Szabo, USA Today, 10/31).
The law was prompted by concerns about the products causing liver or hormone damage (California Healthline, 10/15). Under the law, California will prohibit the sale or distribution of any children's product containing more than .01% of phthalates beginning in 2009.
The European Union and Canada also have banned the chemical because of evidence in some human and animal studies that phthalates and another chemical, bisphenol A, could trigger hormonal changes in infants. The American Medical Association last month urged FDA to label all medical products containing one type of phthalate to protect newborns.
The chemical industry and American Chemistry Council maintain that the bans are unnecessary and that the chemicals are safe. ACC spokesperson Marian Stanley said that with "the amount in which [the chemicals are] used, and the amounts that people are exposed to, there is not a problem."
Some hospital chains, including Kaiser Permanente and Catholic Healthcare West, also plan to phase out medical equipment with the one form of phthalate (Weise/Szabo, USA Today, 10/31).
PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on Tuesday reported on the debate over BPA. The segment includes comments from:
- John Bucher, associate director of the National Toxicology Program;
- Earl Gray, a research toxicologist at the Environmental Protection Agency;
- Steven Hentges, chief BPA scientist at the American Chemistry Council;
- Retha Newbold of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences;
- Jennifer Sass, a neurobiologist at the National Resources Defense Council;
- Heather Sine, an obstetrician and consultant for the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association; and
- Parents (Bowser, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 10/31).
A transcript, audio and video of the segment are available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.