Thursday, November 21st, 2013
More than 200,000 toy dolls shipped to the United States from China for the holiday gift-giving season were seized by U.S. authorities because the dolls were found to contain phthalates, a toxic chemical that has been linked to premature births, among other health risks. More from CNN.com:
The toys contained high levels of phthalates, which are chemical plasticizers used to make materials softer and more pliable, authorities said. Congress has banned the chemical in children’s toys.
The U.S. Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center began targeting the shipments in April because they threatened children’s safety, authorities said.
“Using advanced technology to track certain shipments before they reach our shores is helping CPSC better protect America’s consumers,” Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement.
U.S. authorities didn’t identify the manufacturer of the toys Tuesday.
A total of 10 shipments valued at almost $500,000 were seized at the ports of Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Norfolk, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; and Savannah, Georgia, authorities said.
Tenenbaum said her agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been targeting dangerous imports at several major ports through the use of a risk management system. Those efforts resulted in the seizure of more than 1.1 million unsafe products last fiscal year, authorities said. At the same time, the system also allows “for faster processing of compliant products,” she said.
Image: Toy doll, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Exposure to phthalates, a type of chemical used in certain plastics and cosmetics, has been linked in a recent study to an elevated risk that pregnant women will deliver their babies prematurely. More from Reuters:
Researchers found that women who delivered babies before 37 weeks gestation had higher levels of phthalates in their urine, compared to women who delivered their children at full term, which is 39 weeks.
“Preterm birth is a real public health problem,” said John Meeker, who led the study. “We’re not really sure how to go about preventing it, but this may shed light on environmental factors that people may want to be educated in.”
Meeker, from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, added, “We knew that exposure to phthalates was virtually ubiquitous here in the U.S. and possibly worldwide and preterm births increased for unknown reasons over the past several decades.”
Phthalates are included in products for a variety of reasons, include to make plastic flexible.
Image: Lipsticks, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
The shiny new lunchbox that makes your child so proud? It may contain high levels of phthalates, chemicals that were banned from toys and have been linked to multiple health problems, according to a new report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The report found that lunch boxes, backpacks, and 3-ring binders made of PVC (also known as vinyl) can contain elevated levels of phthalates, LAWeekly reported. Here’s more:
The study tested 20 children’s products now on store shelves, all popular back-to-school purchases, and discovered that 75% contained elevated levels of phthalates, a class of chemical considered hazardous even at low levels of exposure. Phthalates are used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are contained in hundreds of other products, including food packaging, detergents, shower curtains, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
CHEJ found high levels of phthalates in the Disney Princess Lunchbox, the Amazing Spiderman Lunchbox, the Access Bag N Pack Lunch Bag, and the Amazing Spiderman Backpack, among other products.
Scientists disagree about the effects of phthalates in humans, but studies link them to a range of health problems including asthma, developmental delays, and diabetes. Schumer is co-sponsor of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would give the Environmental Protection Agency more authority to regulate chemicals in consumer products.
CHEJ offers this guide to help parents choose vinyl- and PVC-free school supplies.
Image: Spiderman Backpack via CHEJ
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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
A new study suggests that phthalates, chemicals used to make plastic products flexible, may delay child development, The Washington Post reports.
Sometimes called plasticizers, phthalates are used in thousands of products, from shower curtains and garden hoses to water bottles and hairspray. Although scientists suspect that they cause health problems, little data has confirmed their effect on people.
The Post described this new study:
A small study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives measured levels of four kinds of phthalates in the urine of 319 non-smoking pregnant women. When the children born of those pregnancies were three years old, the researchers assessed their mental, motor and behavioral development.
The study found that phthalates exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of motor delay, a condition that could potentially translate to problems with fine and gross motor skills later in life, according to the study. One of the phthalates was associated with “significant” decreases in mental development among girls; among boys and girls, three of the phthalates were associated with behavior problems such as anxiety and depression, “emotionally reactive behavior” and withdrawn behavior.
More studies are needed because it’s unclear how exactly phthalates act on the body, researchers wrote. These findings “raise a public health concern,” but “should be interpreted with caution,” they said.
(image via: http://momsgoinggreenblog.com)
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