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Toxic Toys Update: States Pushing Forward with Bold, Comprehensive Legislation

Since our last Dispatch on toxic toys, several states have moved comprehensive legislation against toxics in children's toys and products.

Washington state passed the nation's toughest regulation, which not only reduces the allowable lead level to 40 parts per million (ppm), but also limits phthalates and cadmium in children's toys and products.  Despite heavy pressure from industry lobbyists, Governor Gregoire signed the bill and stated, "We in Washington are not going to wait to protect our children.  The toys that pose a danger to our children are not welcomed here in Washington State."

Just last week, the Maine legislature passed a toxic toys bill that would continually test toys and products and require the use of safer alternatives when available.  The bill also allows the state to participate in an interstate clearinghouse to share information on toxics and promote safer chemical use. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New YorkRhode Island, and Vermont all have comprehensive bills active, while other states still have plans to introduce legislation.  In all, an astounding twenty-nine states introduced some sort of legislation to address the toxic toy problem.

Moreover, several large companies are voluntarily removing toxics for children's toys and products.  On the heels of a draft report from the National Toxicology Program that raised concerns about the safety of bisphenol-A (BPA), Toys "R" Us is dropping baby bottles made with the toxin.  This news follows the Food and Drug Administration's admission that they relied on two studies sponsored by the plastic industry lobby on determining acceptable BPA levels.  Of the two studies used in the FDA's analysis, one has been found to be deeply flawed and the other has not been published, nor have the results of the study been made public. Canada declared BPA a toxic chemical in the last few days and Nalgene, makers of plastic water bottles, is phasing out production of water bottles containing BPA.  

On the phthalates front, retail giants Target and Wal-Mart have begun voluntary efforts to remove phthalates from their products.  They are joined by Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike and Apple.  The writing is on the wall.  If Wal-Mart is removing phthalates, there is no reason why states shouldn't ban the toxin and ensure our children are free from exposure to toxic toys and products.

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