California's Ban On Phthalates May Spread To Other States

Yesterday’s legal action in California against Apple over its use of phthalates may be the opening shot in a nation-wide battle between consumer advocates, health agencies, state and federal entities, and manufacturers of everything from teething rings to consumer electronics to sex toys. Although the ban (which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2009) is limited to California, “lawmakers in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington, Maine, Connecticut and New York are expected to introduce similar legislation in the coming months, according to environmental and breast cancer groups that sponsored the California measure.”

Phthalate is a chemical used to soften plastics, and it’s used in a variety of industries. There have been several studies that indicate it may affect hormone levels as well as cause other lasting damage. But the issue is fairly controversial, because there are other existing studies that show it poses no danger. The president of the American Chemistry Council says, “”This law is the product of the politics of fear. It is not good science, and it is not good government.” For now, in California at least, the health advocates have prevailed whether the science is there or not.

According to Greenpeace, phthalates are used in the antenna and headphones of the iPhone. According to Wikipedia, phthalates are used in “nail polish, fishing lures, adhesives, caulk, paint pigments, and sex toys made of so-called ‘jelly rubber.’ Some vendors of jelly rubber sex toys advise covering them in condoms when used internally, due to the possible health risks. ” Some products containing phthalates (mostly toys and childcare articles) have been banned in Europe.

“A nationwide toxic toy ban likely to follow state lead” [SFGate]

“Scientific tests reveal iPhone contains hazardous chemicals and materials, says Greenpeace” [Greenpeace]
Phthalates [Wikipedia]