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CPSC Got Phthalate Ban Wrong Senator Says

Nov 24, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California) issued a press release Friday urging the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to follow through on implementing the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act of 2008 requiring the CPSC to protect America’s children from the toxic chemical, phthalates.

According to the release, the Act contained a provision written by two Democratic Senators from California—Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer—that requires the CPSC to remove toys and children’s products containing phthalates from store shelves by February 10, 2009.  The release explains that phthalate exposure can harm the development of reproductive organs and discusses how experts believe exposure to multiple phthalates presents a risk to developing fetuses and young children.

What has happened, according to the release is that the CPSC’s General Counsel—Cheryl Falvey—issued an erroneous opinion that, in essence, reverses this law and allows dangerous, phthalate-containing products to remain on store shelves, be sold, and continue to contaminate our children.  Oddly, Falvey’s opinion allows for the sale of these dangerous phthalate-containing toys and products manufactured after the ban’s effective date, which will allow these toys to enter the homes of families with children.  

According to Senator Boxer, “This opinion is harmful to our children and a blatant disregard for the law.  Ms. Falvey’s claim that our intent was not clear is a pathetic and transparent attempt to avoid enforcing this law.  It is beyond me that as they exit the scene, this Administration is still carrying out its malicious actions to weaken environmental protection for our families.”

In a letter dated November 21, Boxer urged Falvey to immediately withdraw her opinion before the current administration leaves and restore the ban on toys and children’s products for a group of phthalates in excess of the bans indicated concentrations.  The  Boxer letter  reads in part:

“The Feinstein-Boxer provision of the law is clear: "Beginning on the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any children's toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent" of certain types of phthalates (section 108 (a) & (b) (1)).

“I can assure you it was the intent of Congress to ban the sale of any children's toy or child care article containing certain phthalates after 180 days post-enactment.  Any other interpretation has no basis in fact.

“The ban clearly includes toys and child care articles produced both before and after the enactment date of the legislation. Allowing these harmful products to remain on store shelves places children in danger and does a disservice to the American consumer.

“Given the importance of this critical health and safety issue, I am asking that you immediately withdraw your opinion rather than put our children at risk.”


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