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CPSC Says Phthalate Ban Doesn' Apply to All Toys

Nov 21, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

USA Today is confirming what many have long suspected -- that despite the recent consumer protection act banning phthalates in toys effective February 10, the ban does not apply to those toys manufactured prior to the effective date.  The law was passed over the summer.

This means that toys with dangerous and hormone-mimicking chemicals can continue to be sold.  This is  according to a letter written this week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) general counsel, Cheryl Falvey, in which she states that the new law does not contain, “a clear statement of ambiguous intent,” reports USA Today.

While the new law bans the use of certain phthalates in toys and products made for children under 12 years of age, toys produced before the ban’s effective date will remain on the market and—until the ban becomes effective—retailers and manufacturers can continue to rid themselves of their dangerous inventory, reports USA Today.  Worse, according to the newspaper, no one is under any legal obligation to label which products do and do not meet the standards mandated in the new law.  Toys  and other products - including teething rings and pacifiers -  can be sold  to consumers without any mention that they contain phthalates.

According to USA Today, Representative Janice Schakowsky, Democrat-Illinois, said retailers and manufacturers are taking advantage of a loophole in the legislation.  The article quoted Schakowsy as saying that the CPSC "is willfully ignoring the Congressional intent, which is to protect children from toxic chemicals.”

Schakowsky voiced concerns about  "fire sales in toy stores across the country" as retailers sell such toys at attractive, reduced prices during a holiday season that comes in the midst of a challenging, economic downturn, USA Today said.

The Washington Post also reports that federal safety regulators confirmed that the ban won’t effect children’s products and toys that are in stores and warehouses, although it will be illegal to sell such products manufactured after the ban date becomes effective.  But, of major concern, notes The Washington Post, is that those dangerous products made before February 10 will be legal to sell after February 10.

The phthalate ban is expected “to remain in effect until a panel” completes its “scientific review of phthalates,” said The Washington Post.


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