It is the season when visions of new toys fill the dreams of sleeping boys and girls – and shopping for these items fills the leisure time of busy fathers and mothers.
Against this backdrop, raising concerns about the safety of plastic toys and giving parenting advice about what to avoid may seem a bit Grinch-like.
However, the National Research Council this week has urged the government to pay more attention to toxic chemicals such as phthalates in kids’ toys and other common products.
Phthalates – used to soften plastic – have been shown in animal studies to potentially interfere in the reproductive development of young males, which has understandably worried consumer and parenting groups alike.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration banned the use of phthalates in children’s products, beginning on February 10th 2009. But the ban still allows the sale of products that were made before that date.
Parents who are concerned about these chemicals may want to look for toys that are specifically labeled phthalate-free. European toys are also guaranteed to lack phthalates, since they are currently prohibited in kids’ products.