Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

PHTHALATES: DOE listing will invite lawsuits

Letter by Daniel Simmons, Washington, D.C. on July 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm with 8 Comments »
July 19, 2011 1:50 pm

Later this week, the state Department of Ecology is set to publish the Children’s Safe Product Act rule, which will include a list of “chemicals of high concern” to children. In the draft rule, DOE proposes to include phthalates.

Listing phthalates, however, would be counter-productive; the federal government already passed regulations governing the use of phthalates in children’s products and included specific language that pre-empted states from passing rules and regulations that are inconsistent with the federal standard.

In 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) which regulated the use of phthalates in children’s toy and child care articles. Because the regulation of phthalates is a hot-button issue, the CPSIA included federal pre-emption in order to avoid a patchwork of different state regulations.

If the DOE includes phthalates on its list, it will not provide any additional protection but will invite lawsuits challenging the listing. And because the federal law is clear, Washington’s listing will most certainly be struck down by the courts.

Phthalates are important chemicals used to make plastics soft and flexible. They are the most common plasticizer due to their safety record and durability.

Because federal law protects children and prohibits states from regulating phthalates, it would be redundant and a waste of limited taxpayer dollars for the DOE to list phthalates. With tight state budgets and a struggling economy, now is not the time for overreaching regulation.

(Simmons is director of regulatory and state affairs with the American Energy Alliance, an energy industry lobbying organization.)

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Why doesn’t the chemical industry want consumers to know if there are phthalates in the products we’re exposing our families to?

    During the 2011 Legislature the chemical industry flew dozens of lobbyists into our state from all over the country to oppose enhancements to the Children’s Safe Product Act – including a common-sense provision requiring major manufacturers to list the chemicals used in their products so that safer alternatives can be found.

    Now apparently the chemical industry is willing to pay one of their chief DC lobbyists to submit LTEs written in ‘the other Washington” to papers in “our Washington.”

    Transparency is a crucial prerequisite for accountability, and one of the biggest barriers in regulating harmful chemicals in consumer products is the lack of information about the chemicals present in everyday items. The CSPA reporting rule will help provide transparency by closing the information gap.

    The fact that the chemical industry is going to such lengths to oppose transparency should cause serious concern about what they’re trying to hide.

    Steve Breaux
    Washington Public Interest Research Group

  2. alindasue says:

    I don’t see how including a chemical in a list of “chemicals of high concern to children” would in any way preempt or interfere with regulation of said chemical. The only potential threat of lawsuit I foresee challenging the listing is from the chemical companies themselves. If they truly don’t want a lawsuit, as the letter writer implies, then they shouldn’t sue.

    If the chemical is one to be concerned about, then it should be included in the state’s list.

  3. GHTaxPayer says:

    Phthalates are harmful toxins that can collect in men’s testicles, and are one fo the leading causes of low testosterone levels and impotency among older men. They should be banned completely.

    If you use a microwave to heat your food, remove the plastic covering or you will be ingesting a big dose of Pthathaltes. Take food out of tupperware and put in a ceramic bowl before putting in the microwave.

  4. Earth_watch says:

    Reading the headline, I assumed the author meant families would start suing companies that use these chemicals… how ironic that instead it’s actually meant as the threat of large corporations (like what GEO Group and ClearChannel do to the City of Tacoma) insinuating corporations will be the ones to sue as a way to have facts suppressed and to continue business as usual, unchecked.

    Simply stating that phthalates are bad (which the author doesn’t dispute) doesn’t mean the state is “regulating” them. Shouldn’t matter which level of government they’re being regulated on; that’s no reason the information shouldn’t be spread widely, or used as a reason to shush it. The FDA has issued warnings about all kinds of things… that doesn’t mean those warnings can’t be repeated on the local level.

    If corporations can claim “freedom of speech” to broadcast information, then state agencies should be able to, too. Frankly, I believe plastics and their side effects will be the eventual ultimate downfall of our planet… but until then the issue is being treated as one of those monstrosities which large corporations have convinced the government is “too big” to fail and too widely relied upon to restrict for convenience sake… but future generations will certainly pay for our unhealthy “conveniences”.

    You should be ashamed of yourself, Daniel Simmons. Do you also represent the pharmaceutical industry which will surely come up with some heavily marketed experimental medication to counter-act phthalates, too?

  5. So does this mean that they balanced the state budget? If not, how about getting back to work doing that.

    And if the budget is balanced, then legislators should go home and stop saddling everyone with their creativity.

  6. scott0962 says:

    If the chemical industry had invested more money in developing safer products and testing them more thoroughly it wouldn’t be faced with high litigation costs now. They can hardly put products on the market that are dangerous to children and expect to face no consequences.

  7. hey prgroup, guess what? It’s not the job of the Department of Ecology to balance the State’s budget. It’s job is to protect Washington’s health and environment.

    It must suck for you that they are doing their job.

  8. itwasntmethistime says:

    It’s about time plastic got some bad press. There are still millions of people who have no idea many plastics are harmful to your health.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0