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Senate Bill Would Expand Current Phthalates Prohibitions

Earlier this year, we blogged about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) announcement that she planned to introduce legislation expanding the scope of Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (“CPSIA”).  That section of the CPSIA makes children’s toys and child care articles subject to a ban on certain phthalates.  Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are used frequently to make vinyl and other plastics soft and flexible.  Their use in products, specifically children’s toys, has received much attention in recent years, similar to that of Bisphenol-A (BPA).

On March 12, 2014, Senator Gillibrand introduced new legislation (S.2120) in the Senate expanding the prohibition on the manufacture, distribution, and importation of certain products containing phthalates.

Specifically, the legislation amends Section 108 to apply more broadly to “children’s products,” rather than to just “children’s toys or child care articles.”  The legislation also adds the three temporarily prohibited phthalates to the list of those permanently banned.  The three phthalates added—DINP, DIDP and DnOP—are currently prohibited on an interim basis under the CPSIA pending further examination by a CPSC appointed Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (“CHAP”).

It is noteworthy that this bill has been introduced before the CHAP has completed its work.  The CHAP is currently studying the effects on children’s health of all phthalates and phthalate alternatives used in children’s toys and child care articles.  This bill is essentially an end-run-around the recommendation of the CHAP on whether the temporary prohibition should become a permanent one and the scope of the products that should be covered.  Not only does the legislation expand the list of phthalates permanently banned under the law, but it also greatly expands the scope of products covered by Section 108.

While we do not think the bill will become law, we did want to apprise our readers of its introduction in the Senate as it is one of the more significant proposed amendments to the CPSIA introduced in some time.  No companion bill has been introduced to date in the House of Representatives.

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