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Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals that are used to soften plastics. There is evidence that phthalates are “endocrine disruptors” that affect hormone levels and cause certain birth defects and other health effects. The Vermont Legislature enacted Act 171 of 2008, 18 V.S.A. § 1511, to limit the concentration of phthalates in toys and in child care articles such as teethers and pacifiers.

As is the case with lead, the state quantitative limits in this area are the same as the federal limits, except for their phase-in dates. The regulated phthalates, by acronym, are (1) DEHP, DBP, and BBP, and (2) DINP, DIDP, and DnOP.

Under both state and federal law, no toy or child care article designed or intended for use by children under the age of three may be sold that contains more than 0.1 percent of any of the first group of phthalates; and, pending further study, no toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth or child care article designed or intended for use by children under the age of three may be sold that contains more than 0.1 percent of any of the second group of phthalates.

The state statute also requires manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative when replacing regulated phthalates, and bars them from using as replacements chemicals identified by the EPA as carcinogens, potential carcinogens, or reproductive toxicants.

Enforcement

The Attorney General and private parties have the same enforcement authority with respect to phthalates as granted under the Consumer Fraud Act.

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