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]


Edit Your Comment

  1. moorie679 says:

    oh well, what doesn’t pose a health risk these days? However, If you want to stay well i am making this one time only offer…. I WILL TAKE YOUR IPODS, IPHONES, AND SEX TOYS OFF YOUR HANDS! FREE! CALL NOW!

  2. urban_ninjya says:

    Californians panic over the smallest things. We say smoking is bad, but put far unhealtheir foods in our bodies than the rest of the world, then go on play diets that do even worse on our bodies.

  3. EvilConservative says:

    IPhone Warning Label:
    For External Use Only. Do Not Eat. Do not insert into any bodily orifice, even on vibrate.

  4. hypnotik_jello says:

    The governator actually signed this law?

  5. pkrieger says:

    ugh. politicians make my head hurt. or is it phthalates…

  6. Trevor says:

    You should really watch Blue Vinal, it’s a movie (not a great one) about how dangerous certain plastics actually are…it’s creepy…granted yes we’re all gonna die..I’d just rather do it without the aid of some of the deadliest chemicals man has ever made…

  7. AnnC says:

    @moorie679: I’ll take the iPods and iPhones but you can keep the sex toys; I know exactly where they’ve been.

  8. DarthSensei says:

    You’ll have to pry the sex toys out of my gf’s cold dead fingers.

  9. You really should choose only phthalate-free nail polish for little girls, who tend to bite their nails and who are more affected by small amounts of the chemical because they are so small themselves.

  10. rhombopteryx says:

    But it’ll be relatively easy, because her fingers will have been unusually softened, perhaps?

  11. Spiny Norman says:

    Phthalates are used in so many applications that this particular law makes no sense whatsoever. Dibutyl phthalate leaches out of all kinds of plastic tubing including medical-grade tubing. I used to keep a GC standard of it around, for comparison, in graduate school.

  12. TheBigLewinski says:

    @AnnC: Hey Ann, I know where those toys have been too, send them to me…

  13. guroth says:

    “You’ll have to pry the sex toys out of my gf’s cold dead fingers.”

    Because clearly yourself alone is not good enough for her.

  14. Razzler says:

    Wow, that’s REALLY unnecessary.

  15. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Guys, I’m getting some complaints from your fellow Consumeristas about all the sex toy talk. Can we please dial it back a notch?

  16. akadallas says:

    I see no reason why the “sex toy talk” should be dialed back as long as it still concerns phthalates. Given that this chemical is used in the majority of toys sold at mainstream sex toy shops (and sold without warnings), this is a huge concern for consumers. Almost everyone I know is unaware of the risks so this is an issue that needs to be raised. As for people’s personal preferences or snarky remarks from insecure people about why someone would want a vibrator, I agree – those can go.

  17. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Good point about the dangers of phthalates.

    As for people’s personal preferences or snarky remarks from insecure people about why someone would want a vibrator, I agree – those can go.

    Yes, that’s when the complaints started to hit my mailbox. So please, Consumeristas, no talking bad about anyone’s girlfriends, mommas, etc. ;-)

  18. moorie679 says:

    @AnnC: sounds like a deal to me!
    you want me to fedex them to you….. oh wait, these are potentially deadly articles, i might have to drive over to give them to you….cant send dangerous stuff over mail.