On Poisonous Plastics

In our March 2008 issue, I wrote a column about the environmental hazards of soft-plastic baits. Because most such baits aren’t biodegradable, some fish, for example, may find and eat discarded soft-plastic worms and suffer stomach blockage as a result. There are chemical issues, too, especially with compounds called phthalates, which are what make soft-plastic baits flexible and soft in the first place. Some phthalates are thought to cause developmental problems in small children.

Just last week, President Bush signed a new Consumer Product Safety Bill, which newly restricts the use of some phthalates in flexible plastic items designed for children under age 12. Inevitably, soft-plastic baits are going to become items of increasing concern.

So I’m left wondering: Is this just typical major government meddling over a very minor issue? Or should I quit using plastic worms entirely and go back to using nothing but real worms?