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Babes In Toyland

September 22, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 38

Regarding the bill discussing the banning of phthalates in children’s toys, I comment not necessarily as a scientist but rather as the mother of a one-and-a-half-year old (C&EN, Aug. 4, page 8). Anyone who has had anything to do with small children is well aware that they play with more than just children’s toys. Most of the time these are the least likely items to capture their interest.

As a parent, to have children and grant them the necessary freedom to explore means they will eventually roam their surroundings and examine, handle, taste, and ultimately play with any object they find, with a special preference for those they see adults handle. Plastic bottles and caps, for example, are an all-time favorite among toddlers. On these grounds, a discussion about potentially obnoxious chemicals in children’s toys appears rather pointless to me.

To imagine children cozily cocooned in carefully atoxic environments, eating only food grown without the use of chemicals and dutifully playing only with toys approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission is an undesirable utopian scenario. As responsible human beings in charge of the health and safety of our offspring, we should concentrate on minimizing the use of proven toxic substances in our own adult environment, since children are living in our very same world.

Simona M. Ceccarelli
Basel, Switzerland


» Sept. 1, page 35: Jinsong Yang is the head of R&D for China’s Dalian Chemphy Chemicals, also known as New Chemphy.

» Sept. 1, page 43: The structure of one product of the copper-releasing reaction was incorrect. It should have contained an NO group as shown, not an NO2 group.



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