New Laws Fall Short of Protecting Babies from Phthalates

It’s a good sign that our government is finally attempting to take steps to protect our babies from toxic chemicals. However, the new laws fall short of giving us any reassurance that children’s products are safe, at least for now. Keeping toxic chemicals out of baby products is not an easy task and will be an ongoing challenge for quite awhile.

Two laws go into effect this year regarding a ban on certain phthalates in children’s products. One is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This is a federal law so it applies throughout the entire U.S. The other is a law that applies only to the state of California.

Many toys and other baby and children’s products currently contain phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disruptive chemicals and are associated with reproductive harm, premature birth, asthma, early onset of puberty, cancer, and kidney and liver damage. Practically all conventional baby mattresses have a vinyl cover, and nearly all vinyl contains phthalates (usually about 30% of vinyl is phthalates).

Here are important things to know about these laws:

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)

The CPSIA allows manufacturing with phthalates to continue until 2/9/09, plus they permit all stock manufactured through 2/9/09 to be sold indefinitely, until such stock is depleted.

Not all phthalates are banned. It appears that only three forms of phthalates are currently banned for mattresses, so it may be legal for manufacturers to substitute with the non-banned phthalates.

California’s New Law

California law does not permit the sale of products containing the banned phthalates as of Jan. 1, 2009. It is now illegal for companies to sell mattresses or any other products for children that contain the banned phthalates, to anyone in California. All stores in California are required to remove all such unsold mattresses, toys, etc.

So if you live in California, you should not be able to buy a baby mattress with a vinyl covering that contains any of the banned phthalates. However, in California there is one type of phthalate (DnHP) that has not been included at all in the phthalate ban. This chemical is listed as a reproductive toxicant under Proposition 65. But it is still legal for manufacturers to continue using at least that form of toxic phthalate.

When it comes to mattresses, phthalates are only one piece of the toxic issue. Most mattresses continue to be made with polyurethane foam, chemical fire retardants, and other toxic components.

It’s obvious that we as parents still need to be diligent in finding baby products that really are safe. That’s what we do here at Healthy Child. None of our crib mattresses have ever contained any phthalates whatsoever, or polyurethane foam, chemical fire retardants, or any other toxic components.

Read more about how to choose a safe, non-toxic baby crib mattress.