What with all our concerns being on the retroactive nature of the CPSIA with regards to lead, we haven't even paid attention to phthalates. According to the CPSC, the CPSIA wasn't going to apply retroactively, meaning that items already produced prior to 2/10/09 would still be legal to sell. Well, a court decided on Friday, 2/6/09 that the CPSIA phthalate ban IS retroactive!
So, we'll be busy on Monday trying to figure out just what we can and cannot sell.
Well, what the heck is a phthalate, and why should we care?
A phthalate is a substance used in plastics, vinyl, and personal care products for the last 50 years or so. There is debate on what effects it has on most humans, but in rodents, it appears to affect male development by messing with their testosterone. From what I've found, it looks like there is little evidence for ill effects on most humans because it is broken down quickly in the body. However, there is disturbing evidence that phthalates DO affect the development in utero of boys and that the presence of phthalates in mother's milk continues to affect boy's testosterone levels.
So it appears the biggest problem of phthalates is when they are ingested directly from MOM! How does mom get the phthalates? Apparently, through their use in personal care products such as shampoo, soap, perfume, etc. So far as I could find, there has been no federal legislation banning phthalates from these adult products.
Many baby personal care products also contain phthalates, but these also don't appear to be banned by the CPSIA which deals with durable goods.
So from what I've read in the last 48 hours, phthalates are definitely questionable when ingested by a developing and newborn baby and we will be closing monitoring the CPSC website for further guidance to ensure we are in compliance. We urge the CPSC to issue official recalls for these items (as well as items with dangerous levels of lead) so we can turn them into the manufacturers for credit.
We'll also be urging Congress to go the next logical step: Ban phthalates from all products that could result in ingestion by a pregnant or nursing woman (or at least provide a warning that the product contains phthalates) and ban it in children's personal care products as well (if the CPSIA doesn't, in fact, already ban it).
More news will be coming soon!