Nov 19, 2006 San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco prepares to ban certain chemicals in products for tots, but enforcement will be tough and toymakers question necessity



The San Francisco law prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of toys and child care products if they contain the phthalates DEHP, DBP or BBP in levels higher than 0.1 percent. Products for children younger than 3 are banned if they contain DINP, DIDP or DnOP in levels exceeding 0.1 percent.

Production: Made by BASF Corp., Eastman Chemical Co., ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Ferro Corp.

Bisphenol A

Regulation: San Francisco law prohibits manufacture,
sale or distribution of a toy or child care article intended for use by a child younger than 3 if it contains bisphenol A.

Production: Made by Dow Chemical, Bayer, General Electric Plastics, Sunoco Chemicals and Hexion Specialty Chemicals.

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 confirmed.

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 phthalates.

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.