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Take toxic toys off the shelves,
National Council of Churches asks

Washington, December 18, 2008  ̶   In a statement issued today, the National Council of Churches urged the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to enforce new legislation banning the use of phthalates in products made for children.  

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act takes effect February 10, but the CPSC has announced it will allow retailers to sell toys containing the banned phthalates past that date.          

“As Christians, we work to care for the ‘least of these,’ especially children,” said Cassandra Carmichael, National Council of Churches eco-justice program director. “Protecting children, who are disproportionately harmed, from toxic substances is an important ministry of the church.”   

Cancer, early puberty in girls, defects in the reproductive tract of male infants, obesity, and learning disabilities have all been tentatively linked to phthalates.  The American Chemical Council is dismissive of concerns about the safety of plastics, insisting that there is not adequate evidence to link plastics to detrimental health effects.   

In support of the Council’s urging, dozens of letters to the editor have been submitted from people of faith around the country.                               

Information about the Council’s environmental health program and the “Christian Principles for a Healthy Body and Spirit can be found online at

Carmichael's letter to Acting Chair Nancy A. Nord of the Consumer Products Safety Commission follows:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814 

December 18, 2008

Dear Nancy A. Nord,  

In this season of Advent, we, as Christians, stand with hope and great expectations as we commemorate the birth of Christ. As many children wait eagerly to celebrate this holiday season, parents will have to work extra hard to know what children’s holiday products are safe. We are thankful that the Congress and President Bush recognized the importance of protecting children and future generations by passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This legislation gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mandate to set strong limits on lead and establish a precautionary ban on six classes of phthalates in children’s products. Unfortunately, the CPSC has chosen to interpret this legislation in a way that weakens the very intention of this law by leaving children’s products with phthalates on the shelves even after the legislation goes into effect. The CPSC’s current interpretation of the bill will leave the most vulnerable members of our society—our precious children—at risk. 

As Christians, we hear a moral call to care for the “least of these” and for future generations. We are also called to treat our bodies as holy temples and therefore be mindful of what we put into them. Last spring we, along with our partner organizations in state councils of churches and interfaith organizations, created “Christian Principles for a Healthy Body and Spirit” to express our Christian concern for toxic chemicals that jeopardize the health of God’s Creation and vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women. There is scientific evidence that links phthalates exposure with damage to children’s reproductive development and other conditions, such as cancer, later in life. This threat to children undermines the very Christian principles that we set forth. 

We call upon the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enforce the original intent of this bill to remove children’s products with phthalates from store shelves by February 10.


Cassandra Carmichael
Director, Eco-Justice Program Office
National Council of Churches USA



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