The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued its final rule concerning children’s toys and child care products containing certain chemicals in plastic. The final rule prohibits eight specific phthalates in children’s toys (defined as a consumer product designed or intended to be played with by a child 12 years’ old or younger) and child care articles (defined as a consumer product designed or intended to facilities sleep or feeding of children three years old or younger or to help children with sucking or teething). The final rule goes into effect April 25, 2018.
The final rule stems from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, in which Congress required CPSC to regulate specific phthalates in certain children’s products. CPSIA Section 108 contained both permanent and interim bans on phthalates. Section 108 permanently banned the sale of children’s toys or child care articles containing any amount greater than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP). The permanent ban went into effect on Feb. 10, 2009. It temporarily banned the sale of any children’s toy that could be placed in a child’s mouth or any child care article that contained more than 0.1 percent diisononyl phthalate diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP). The interim restriction went into effect the same time as the permanent ban and remained effective until the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) completed its statutorily required study into the effects of the phthalates.
The final rule restates the permanent bans on DEHP, DBP and BBP; continues the interim ban with respect to only DINP; and, notably, expands the interim ban on DINP beyond only toys that could be placed in a child’s mouth to all children’s toys. The CPSC did not continue the interim prohibitions on DnOP or DIDP. The CPSC’s final rule prohibits four new phthalates as well: diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP) are prohibited. The CPSC’s briefing regarding the new rule “concludes that this restriction on the four additional phthalates is necessary to protect the health of children” because it concluded that “these phthalates cause male reproductive developmental effects.”
Some of the most interesting commentary that the CPSC received and responded to concerned continuing and expanding the ban on DINP. Commenters expressed concern about banning DINP and expanding the ban to include toys and articles beyond those placed in the mouth because not much is known about the toxicity and safety of alternative chemicals. CPSC countered that while it shared the commenters’ concerns regarding other chemicals, it did not believe that the lack of data meant that it should not take any action regarding DINP. Commenters also asserted that the expanded ban was unnecessary because CHAP’s own research found that DINP posed no significant health risk by itself in isolation. CPSC responded to these claims, stating that the ban on DINP was warranted due to the cumulative risk from DINP in combination with other chemicals, not just on its own.
Manufacturers of children’s toys or child care articles should take this final rule as an opportunity to revisit the safety of their products and the composition of the plastic used to create those products.