CPSIA Update: Media Accountability

NPR’s “Morning Edition” reports on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and asks an important question: So what replaces the now banned chemicals? From “New Safety Law Doesn’t Mean All’s Well In Toyland

A new federal law took effect this week banning chemicals called phthalates in children’s toys and other kids’ products. While the ban was hailed as a victory for children’s health, it’s no guarantee that the products are safe.

That’s because companies currently aren’t required to publicly disclose the chemicals they use in place of phthalates — and little is known about the health effects of one of the most widely used alternatives.

The chemical in question is DINCH, and questions are being raised, California is concerned, and the precautionary principle is being invoked.*

In California, two new state laws will eventually require companies to post the chemicals in their products in an online database available to the public. And they will likely have to prove that those chemicals are safe before they’re allowed to sell them in the marketplace.

And if the phthalate ban — which started in California — is any guide, manufacturers around the country may someday face those requirements, too.

That’s fair-enough speculation.

But this week we saw incredible disruption of home-based businesses, thrift stories, libraries, motorcycle sales, on and on, the result of an ill-conceived piece of legislative overreaction and fear-instilling media coverage –just like this story and its more sensationalistic cohort. We know, concretely, in human and economic terms, where the regulatory impulse and insanely-risk averse activism takes us. News coverage that fails to acknowledge these realities is, at best, incomplete.

As for sensational cohorts, take a look at this story from WISH-TV, Channel 11, Indianpolis, from last October: “Hidden Hazards – An I-Team 8 Special Investigation.” It’s a model of the fear-mongering art, relying on Henry Waxman, scientists from activist groups and anxious mothers.

We’ve been looking for a follow-up report from I-Team 8 about what happens after all these people get what they want. So far, nothing.

* And class-action lawyers are opening files, but that’s a topic for another day.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • […] going to be taken out of the mix for playthings and child care goods, just to be on the safe side. What’s going to replace them, and are those replacements going to be more or less safe than phthalates were? For more on the […]

Leave a Reply