Expert Panel Recommends Further Steps to Lower Unsafe Phthalate Levels

written by Ted Schettler, MD, MPH
Science Director for CHE and the Science and Environmental Health Network

Phthalates are a family of chemicals used in many consumer products, mainly as softeners of plastics and sometimes as solvents. As a result, human exposures are ubiquitous. In recent years, many laboratory and epidemiologic studies have shown that some phthalates can cause a variety of adverse health effects. In response, the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) permanently banned three phthalates and temporarily banned three additional phthalates from use in children’s toys and child care products while calling for an expert scientific review of phthalate-related risks.

A panel of scientists assembled as members of the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) and charged with assessing the safety of using phthalates or six alternative chemicals in children’s toys and child care articles has completed their review and released a report.[1] They recommended that current bans on four phthalates should be permanent, four additional phthalates should be banned, and current bans on two should be lifted. Further, because of inadequate safety information, the panels says governmental agencies should obtain necessary exposure and hazard data for other phthalates and alternatives in order to assess health risks, as they are charged and authorized to do.

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