The economy is bad and everyone expects retail sales to be substantially off. But parents will scrimp on presents for each other to make sure their kids get presents they want. Whether we approve or not, we do it for our kids. I assume it’s hardwired into our brains somehow. But in the waning hours of the Bush administration, we are still getting the same old crap and they don’t give a second thought to putting our kids and grand kids at risk:
Congressional supporters of a new law meant to protect children from dangerous chemicals are trying to make sure that the government enforces the legislation as they intended.
Congress in August passed a landmark consumer safety law that raises standards for toys and virtually bans several hormone-like chemicals called phthalates in products for children under 12.
Lawmakers wanted toys with the controversial chemicals to be off the market when the law takes effect Feb. 10, according to a statement from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., co-author of the ban.
Last week, however, a staff attorney at the agency responsible for carrying out the new regulations — the Consumer Product Safety Commission — released a legal opinion stating that stores may continue to sell toys with phthalates, as long as those items were made before Feb. 10. That could allow toys with phthalates to remain on the shelves for years, with no way for parents to know which toys contain the chemicals, Feinstein says. (Liz Szabo, USA Today, h/t mcjoan at DailyKos)
How bad are phthalates? I really don’t know. Like BPA, there’s an accumulating body of animal evidence and the beginnings of some epidemiological data. As with BPA, it’s the hormone-like effects that worry public health scientists because they are active at extremely low levels characteristic of typical environmental exposures. There are many different phthalate compounds in use and they are all over the place. A couple of months ago we hosted a seminar speaker who, like me, runs a very large research program at a famous research university in the northeast. The topic was his current work on testicular dysgenesis syndrome, and while I don’t recall at the moment what model compounds he was using to study it, I distinctly remember him saying in relation to a question about BPA that what he was really worried about were phthalates.
Europe is ahead of the US in phasing out the ones of most concern but even when Congress mandates a ban for children’s toys, the Bush administration does everything they can to frustrate the law. Just a reminder that while he’s history in 50 more days, he can still do lasting damage in that time. Lasting, as in the “remaining lifetime of a little child.”