Thursday, March 27, 2008

Toxic Toys

t r u t h o u t | Programming Note

Monday 24 March 2008

Is the US falling behind the European Union in regulating chemicals found in products we give our children? Watch NOW.

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Why does the United States remain one of the few developed countries to allow children to play with toys that some scientists say may cause infertility in boys? The toys in question contain substances called phthalates (pronounces "thal-ates"). While the European Union has banned these substances in products meant for children, there is powerful resistance from the chemical and toy industries to doing the same here.

NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels from California, where citizens have successfully gotten the state to pass a ban on phthalates in children's toys, to New York City's prestigious Toy Fair, and to Washington, DC, to uncover some answers.

Phthalates help make plastic toys like some rubber ducks and teething rings soft and pliable. But scientific evidence suggests that exposure to phthalates (which are also used in dozens of other consumer items such as make-up, shampoos and shower curtains) may interfere with the sexual development of boys. Last year, San Francisco became the first US city to ban phthalates in toys. The toy and chemical industry sued the city to block implementation, claiming there's not enough evidence to warrant any action. A similar ban is set to take effect throughout California in 2009.

Investigative Journalist Mark Schapiro, author of "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power," tells NOW, "By refusing to close the loopholes in EPA laws that regulate chemicals in toys (and other products), the US government is jeopardizing our health, alienating us from the global market, and erasing our role as a world leader in environmental protection."


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