The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a meeting of the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on phthalates and phthalate substitutes. The March 30-31, 2011, meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, represents the fourth time CHAP has met “to study the effects on children’s health of all phthalates and phthalate alternatives as used in children’s toys and child care articles, pursuant to section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).” No opportunity will be provided during this meeting for public comment; the panel expects to discuss its progress toward analyzing potential phthalate risks.

CPSIA permanently prohibits the sale of any children’s toy or child care article that contains more than 0.1 percent of each of three specified phthalates—di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). It also prohibits on an interim basis the sale of any “children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth” or child care article that contains more than 0.1 percent of each of three additional phthalates—diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP).

Requiring CHAP to fully examine the range of phthalates used in children’s products, CPSIA also mandates that the panel consider issues including (i) “the potential health effects of each of these phthalates, both in isolation and in combination with other phthalates”; (ii) “the likely levels of children’s, pregnant women’s, and others’ exposure to phthalates, based upon a reasonable estimation of normal and foreseeable use and abuse of such products”; (iii) “the cumulative effect of total exposure to phthalates, from children’s products and from other sources, such as personal care products”; (iv) “all relevant data, including the most recent, best available, peer-reviewed, scientific studies of these phthalate alternatives that employ objective data-collection practices or employ other objective methods”; (v) “the health effects of phthalates not only from ingestion but also as a result of dermal, hand-to-mouth, or other exposure”; and (vi) “the level at which there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to children, pregnant women, or other susceptible individuals and their offspring.” See Federal Register, March 15, 2011.