Public Comment to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Proposed Rule: Prohibition of Children’s Toys and Child Care Articles Containing Specified Phthalates

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Summary: Since the release of the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) report in July, many stakeholders have raised serious concerns about the process and report methodologies. Key complaints include the lack of transparency in regard to the peer review process, the refusal to allow public comment on a draft version of the CHAP, reliance on outdated exposure data, and questionable approaches employed for the cumulative exposure assessment. Less often noted is the fact that the CHAP report authors did not adequately consider the impacts on public health that might result from inferior substitute products.

An open and transparent process of peer review and public comment is essential to securing the best possible policy outcomes, particularly when complex scientific issues are involved. Accordingly, we don’t only need an open process simply to make it fair to all stakeholders, we it need to best serve the public at large. Indeed, we need it to protect the public from rash, and dangerous decisions. And we did not have a fair and open process leading up to this proposed rule.

In any case, the science outlined in the CHAP and elsewhere does not support regulatory action on any of the phthalates. Such regulatory actions will have unanticipated impacts on the markets for a variety of products above and beyond those regulated in this rule. Forced product reformulations for the children’s products regulated under the rule, along with resulting market deselection of other products, threatens to undermine public health, innovation, and economic well-being.

Accordingly, the CPSC should not impose any regulations in addition to those already mandated under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) because such regulations are not warranted by the science, unjustified based on close inspection of CPSC’s own assessment, and likely to do more harm than good. At a very minimum, the CPSC should hold off on issuing a rule until the CHAP can be revised to include the most current exposure data and to allow public comment and open peer review to take place.