Modeling clay may pose health risk to children

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(Host) According to a new report released by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, several popular children’s baking clay products may pose serious health risks. VPIRG is urging the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch an investigation into this issue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The report, which was researched and written by VPIRG, calls on schools, day-care centers and art centers to remove these products until health concerns about them have been addressed. At issue is the use of chemicals known as phthalates in popular modeling and baking clays.

VPIRG spokeswoman Susanne Miller says children are exposed to an unhealthy dose of phthalates when they touch these products and when the clays are baked. Miller says the chemicals pose a significant health risk even if the products are used in a proper manner:

(Miller) “Our research showed that children can be exposed to high levels of phthalates, much higher than the average levels the government assumes that people are exposed to, on a daily basis about 130 times that amount. So we think that this clay is of serious concern and that parents should not let their children use these clays and schools should take them away from children’s use.”

(Kinzel) Miller says it’s critical for federal safety officials to conduct a thorough investigation to determine how much of a risk these phthalates pose to the health of children:

(Miller) “There’s a lot of evidence out there, scientific studies showing that phthalates are linked to a wide variety of human health or health impacts, reproductive disorders, birth deformities gene mutations and some phthalates are even linked to cancer. Shouldn’t we test chemicals before they go on the market and are clearly marketed to children’s products?”

(Kinzel) Miller is urging parents to carefully check the labels of all modeling and baking clays to be certain that the products they purchase do not contain any level of phthalates.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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