Health Team

Chemicals in plastic toys could harm children's health

Posted November 10, 2008 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2008 6:57 p.m. EST

Parents need to do their homework before they start Christmas shopping, especially when it comes to toys. Plastic toys that will be banned in February might still be on store shelves next month.

Beginning next year, the U.S. will begin a ban on chemical compounds called phthalates. The chemicals help make the plastic in toys soft, but they can cause reproductive defects in young children.

Some lawmakers said they worry that toy makers and distributors will try to flood the market with the toys before the ban starts.

“We would hope that all the of the toys that come into the U.S. are safe for the age they are recommended for. And if they’ve done studies that this could be a concern, then we need to pay attention to it,” said toy store owner Teresa Neumann.

Many toy stores already carry more toys labeled as phthalate-free. Since the European Union banned phthalates a couple of years ago, any plastic toys made in countries like France and Germany won't have the chemical compound in them either.

That’s good news to parents like Petrina Zaraszczak, who says her children’s health is nothing to play with.

“If there is something that is out there, and we know it’s harmful, then we should do our job to protect them from it,” she said.