October 15, 2007
News Release from Environment California

SACRAMENTO, CA— Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1108 (Ma), making California the first state in the country to ban the use of phthalates from children’s products. 

“We are thrilled that California is taking action to protect our kids from dangerous chemicals,” said Dan Jacobson, Legislative Director for Environment California, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “This bill is so important because as children’s minds and bodies go through the delicate processes of growing and developing, they are particularly vulnerable to chemicals that could affect proper development.”

Phthalates are chemicals added to plastic to make it soft and flexible.  Among many other things, they are used in soft plastic toys and other baby products, such as teethers, bath books, and rubber ducks.  Because phthalates are not chemically bonded to the plastic, these toxic chemicals are easily released.  Because children have a natural tendency to suck on objects as a way of exploring the world around them, phthalates can leach out of these products and enter their bodies.

“When a child puts a phthalate-laden teether in her mouth, it’s like sucking on a toxic lollypop,” said Rachel Gibson, Staff Attorney for Environment California.  Phthalates have been shown to interfere with the natural functioning of the hormone system.  These toxic chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems, early onset of puberty, liver and thyroid damage, and testicular cancer.

U.S. EPA studies show the cumulative impact of different phthalates leads to an exponential increase in associated harm.  According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), levels of phthalates found in humans are higher than levels shown to cause adverse health effects.  The data also show phthalate levels are highest in children. 

“Governor Schwarzenegger, Senate President Perata, Speaker Nunez, and Assembly member Ma deserve a lot of credit for moving AB 1108 into law,” said Jacobson. “Our leaders stood up to powerful special interests and passed legislation to protect our kids.” 

California follows the European Union and 14 other countries that have already banned or restricted the use of phthalates in products intended for kids. 

Environment California and Breast Cancer Fund co-sponsored AB 1108.  For more information, go to: EnvironmentCalifornia.org

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For more information:
Rachel Gibson, (415) 622-0086 ext. 304