February 6, 2009

Phthalate Phight

Plastics are bad and you shouldn't use them. But since that won't happen, it would be nice if we could at least get rid of phthalates, a common ingredient in soft plastics. For those who need a phthalates refresher, Enviroblog reminds us that they are:
a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies and asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, and, most worrisome, abnormal development of reproductive system in baby boys.

Phthalates are used in a wide variety of consumer products such as fragrances, cosmetics and shampoos, medical devices, soft toys that children and pets play with and often chew, building and home decorating materials, and even children's clothing.
The good news is that Congress passed a law last year banning the chemical. The bad news is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission under idiot former President Bush had ruled that products manufactured before February 10, 2009 could stay on the shelves. So it's a poison, but only after February 10. Before February 10 it's not a poison. Got it? So the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen sued to stop enforcement of that CPSC ruling. And they appear to have won. Good news, right?

Well, it was until GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and several of his Senate colleagues got involved. With backing from the US Chamber of Commerce, this group of Republicans are attempting to insert a provision into the stimulus bill that would significantly weaken the entire product safety reform act. According to the LAT, the bill:
...would delay the [phthalate] regulations by six months, clarify rules about component testing, exempt resellers from the act, prevent retroactive enforcement of the act and require the commission to provide small businesses with a compliance guide.
Apparently, stimulating the economy and poisoning children go hand in hand. What is it with these people? Presumably, Democrats will knock it back. But it does make you wonder - what environmental landmines might still be buried in that stimulus package?

Photo by Steve Wampler used under a CC license

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