updated 10/15/2007 11:19:41 AM ET 2007-10-15T15:19:41

California has banned a chemical that's found in many plastic toys and baby products.

Studies have shown that the chemical phthalate has been linked to early puberty, reproduction defects and other health problems.

Starting in 2009, any product containing more than a trace amount of the chemical can't be made, sold or distributed in California.

Still, representatives from the toy industry have said the amount of toxic chemicals and exposure periods for children's toys are so low that they don't pose a health hazard.

California is the first state in the U.S. to institute a ban on the chemical. Oregon, Maryland and New York are also considering bills to ban it in certain products.

Pthalate has already been banned by the European Union and at least 14 other countries.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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