California OKs phthalates ban on children's products

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Siding with activists who urged action against “toxic toys,” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill on Sunday banning chemicals called phthalates in children’s products.

The bill aimed at the chemicals used to help mold and smooth toys and other plastic products such as teething rings comes amid growing concern among U.S. consumers over substances used by manufacturers in China to make toys, prompting recalls, including by Mattel Inc., the world’s biggest toy maker.

“We must take this action to protect our children,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “These chemicals threaten the health and safety of our children at critical stages of their development.”

The bill prohibits the manufacture, sale and distribution of toys and child care products used by children under the age of three that contain phthalates, which have been linked to cancer and reproductive defects, according to the governor’s office.

Schwarzenegger in a separate statement urged lawmakers to support his administration’s Green Industry Initiative to take a comprehensive approach toward evaluating health effects of chemicals.

“While I believe the circumstances related to phthalates warrant taking action now, I do not believe that addressing this type of concern in the legislature on a chemical by chemical, product by product basis is the best or most effective way to make chemical policy in California,” Schwarzenegger said.