We may have been rather quick to breathe a small sigh of relief yesterday when we heard a report on NPR saying the 2008 congressional ban on phthalates (the chemicals that make plastics soft and pliable) may have stemmed from public concern rather than scientific proof, meaning the small children in our extended family who have enjoyed plenty of plastic toys aren't in as much trouble as we'd feared.
According to the Public Safety Commission, repeated tests on toys containing the suspected materials showed that when children did not keep the toys in their mouths very long (less than 75 minutes), the phthalate levels did not raise any eyebrows.
However, we got to thinking that if we had a child, we'd still be concerned that the chance that they could, maybe on accident, keep that toy in their mouth for the problem-causing 75 minutes a day. So we'd likely avoid plastics containing phthalates anyway...
Plastic has its own problems with the environment, and aside from the possibility that enough exposure to phthalates (we're talking a LOT of direct exposure) can eventually cause problems, we still think the greenest homes will avoid unnecessary plastics. But it is good to know that each generation of small children who have been gnawing on their rubber duckies since the 80s are not as at-risk of endocrine disruption from phthalates as we may have thought.
What do you think? If science says it's not as dangerous as we worried, should phthalate exposure continue to be such a fear factor?
Read the article: Public Concern, Not Science, Prompts Plastics Ban
Photos via sxc.hu by Jacqueline Munoz and Shannah Pace.