What is this, the klingon empire?
When it comes to child safety, parents tend to pull out all the stops … or maybe parents are the ones actually putting in all the stops. Regardless, a recent study about baby teething toys, or chew toys, which are not regulated in the same category as baby bottles, has shown that “BPA-free” may not actually really mean BPA-free. The study showed that not only did toys labeled as “non-toxic” contain toxic chemicals, but a majority of toys labeled as “BPA-free” actually contained BPA.
The study was designed to look at whether baby teething toys contained EDCs (endocrine disruptor chemicals), BPA, and other toxic chemicals. EDCs are harmful chemicals that can affect a person’s development in many ways. Because all the harmful links between BPA, EDCs, and other toxins remain unknown, some researchers suggest avoiding as many as possible.
Chew on What?
In 2012, the FDA banned BPA from baby bottles and children’s drinking cups. However, teethers were not included in the ban. This meant that while many companies voluntarily claimed to remove BPA from their products, there was no mandate to investigate these products for BPA. Which leads to perhaps the most shocking result from the study: a high percentage of teethers that were used in the study were mislabeled as non-toxic or BPA-free or both.
Fortunately, as the researchers found, the levels of BPA that the teethers gave off were, assuming normal teether usage, generally within what is considered safe. More protective parents, or weary researchers, are likely to disagree with what is considered safe….
A report released recently by a committee of the National Research Council finds that government risk assessment methods likely underestimate the effects of phthalates, a group of hormone-mimicking compounds widely used in consumer products. Responding to a request from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the committee examined the agency’s current approach to assessing health risks of this large family of chemicals. The report concludes that the agency could underestimate phthalate risk if it doesn’t consider the effects of combined exposure to different compounds, which can cause more serious or different toxic effects together than they would have caused individually. In other words, the sum could be worse than its parts.
Though unrelated, the report comes in the wake of the newly passed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which bans from certain children’s products three types of phthalates permanently and places a temporary ban on three others pending the results of a risk assessment by an expert panel. “Consumers can be exposed to many different phthalate compounds, so we hope this new panel will follow the report’s recommendations and assess the cumulative effects of these compounds‚” says Carolyn Cairns, Program Leader for Product Safety at Consumer Reports.
Because they can upset the delicate balance of hormones, phthalate exposure during key periods of fetal development has been linked, mostly in animal studies, to a host of problems in the developing fetus. The male reproductive system is particularly at risk since phthalates interfere with androgens—male hormones like testosterone—causing defects in the position of the urethra (hypospadias is the scientific term), testicular development and fertility. Some phthalates have also been linked to liver cancer. …