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Rhode Island pushes to stem toxic toys crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 12, 2008
CONTACT: Austin Guest, aguest@progressivestates.org, 212-680-3116, ext. 110 

RHODE ISLAND PUSHES FORWARD TO STEM TOXIC TOYS CRISIS

STATE JOINS DOZENS ACROSS THE NATION SEEKING MORE COMPREHENSIVE REGULATION

Providence - Amidst the recent national uproar over lead in children’s toys, the Rhode Island legislature joined statehouses across the country in turning its attention to a new set of poisonous chemicals showing up in children's toys: phthalates and bisphenol-A.

Today, the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee began hearings on a bill by Representative Amy G. Rice (D, Portsmouth) that would make it illegal to for toys to contain either phthalates or bisphenol-A in quantities above 100 parts per million.

The two chemicals are commonly used by toy manufacturers to soften or reinforce plastics. Phthalates have been linked to deformed reproductive organs as well as increased risk of asthma and cancer, while Bisphenol-A has been tied to neural and behavioral disorders.

After failing to pass legislation tightening the regulation of toxic toys last year, Congress is currently considering a bill that would tighten restrictions on lead, but has no provisions for either phthalates or bisphenol-A.

According to Mijin Cha, Senior Environmental Policy Specialist with Progressive States Network, a national policy group that has been working to promote toxic toys legislation in states across the country, this lack of federal leadership on the issue makes it all the more crucial for states to pass legislation.

“This problem has been piling up for years almost unnoticed by federal regulators,”? said Cha. “If states like Rhode Island don’t do something to solve the problem, then nobody will.”?

Last year, California became the first state in the country to place a ban on phthalates. This January, Washington and Maine introduced legislation that would outlaw both phthalates and bisphenol-A, causing at least a dozen other states to follow suit.

Phthalates have been banned in the European Union since 2005. Several other countries, including Mexico, Argentina, have also outlawed the chemicals.