Sunday, November 19, 2006 (SF Chronicle)
TOXIC TOYS/San Francisco prepares to ban certain chemicals in products for kids, but enforcement will be tough — and toymakers question necessity
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Widely used chemicals with suspected links to cancer and developmental
problems in humans are present in common baby products like the yellow
rubber ducky, bath books and clear plastic bottles, a Chronicle analysis
The toxic chemicals, which are used to harden or soften plastics, can
leach out each time a baby sucks on a favorite doll or gnaws on a cool
teething ring, scientists say.
Starting Dec. 1, a first-in-the-nation ban goes into effect in San
Francisco, prohibiting the sale, distribution and manufacture of baby
products containing any level of bisphenol A and certain levels of
The law, modeled on a European Union ban that started this year, reflects
emerging concerns by environmental health scientists over the buildup of
industrial chemicals in humans, particularly young children. Especially
under scrutiny are chemicals that mimic estrogen, possibly disrupting the
hormonal system and altering the normal workings of genes.
Yet the trouble is that no one knows for sure how many baby products
contain the chemicals. Stores, many of which are still unaware of the
pending ban, will be unable to decide what to take off the shelves because
manufacturers aren’t required to disclose what chemicals go into a
product. For that reason, The Chronicle set out to test several common
baby toys and found that most of them — even ones labeled “safe,
non-toxic” — contained the chemicals.