This week, a new federal law that was passed last year took effect banning phthalates, a commonly-used chemical in children’s toys. Phthalates make plastic soft and easy to bend. You can find it in products like teething rings, action figures, hairspray, food containers and plastic shower curtains. Although its effects on children are still being debated, studies on baby boys whose mothers were exposed to high levels of phthalates during pregnancy showed that the boys had smaller genitalia and incompletely descended testicles.
While the ban is a step in the right direction, we’re not totally in the clear just yet. Little is known about popular phthalate substitutes, and there is no law requiring toy manufacturers to make the “ingredients” in their products public. Mattel, who makes Barbie, American Girl and Tyco products, did say in a recent NPR article that they use citrates, which have been recognized as safe alternatives for phthalates. California is currently working on new laws that will require companies to disclose their product information to the public and prove that the chemicals they use are safe.
More about toys and children
• Concerned about what might be in your kids' favorite toys? Check out Natural Home's guide to better children's toys.
• Did you know that up to 35 percent of children's toys contain lead? Read more about it.
• Create a natural environment for your baby. Learn how to create a healthy, nontoxic nursery.