25 things vanishing in America, part 2: Known toxins in children's products

Buh-bye, Dora the Explorer and your fairy princess castle. So long, Skarloey the train. Catch you later, phthalates in baby bottles. There's a new sheriff in town. Make that the CPSIA-riff.

As retail stores and toy manufacturers everywhere pick up their XRF guns and get to work testing for lead in every. single. last. product, and baby bottles and sports bottles are pulled off the shelves thanks to plastics, Americans are finally coming to terms with the toxins federal agencies have long hemmed and hawed over. Today is a new day, and in this day, lead is not just a no-no, but is carefully screened in every product sold.

As of February 10th of this year, penalties go into effect for any retailer or manufacturer knowingly selling toys or any other children's products (including clothing, books and bikes) containing levels of lead or phthalates above government standards -- 600 ppm total for lead and 0.1% of total for phthalates . These cannot be sold, either new or by resale shops, thrift stores, or even garage sales. However, testing requirements and certification for most retailers won't be enforced until January 2010 (leaving the Consumer Protection Safety Commission and its enormous new act, not to mention the retailers who are subject to its requirements, in a strange limbo).

Criminal and civil penalties can be applied for any retailers knowingly selling toxic toys or other children's items, and manufacturers of new products are required to provide strict certification of their products' safety, however, so parents have already begun to feel more secure about buying toy castles, trains and baby bottles. It's a strange new world, with far less brightly-colored paint and Nalgene bottles for your children; and much though the government has stumbled through it, parents are happy to see these toxins vanishing in America.

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