03/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Court Agrees: Phthalates are Banned From Toys Effective Next Week!

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 NRDC scored a big victory today when a federal judge ruled in our favor in a court case against the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The CPSC had previously ruled that although Congress had set a date of Feb. 10th, 2009 for banning phthalates in toys, it would still be OK for phthalate-laden toys manufactured before this date to be sold indefinitely.  This misguided CPSC decision would not only have confused consumers but resulted in continued exposure to these toxic chemicals.

 NRDC and our partner group, Public Citizen, disagreed, filed a lawsuit and this week went to court over this ruling, just one week before the ban was supposed to take effect.

 Today's opinion, concurs with what NRDC argued, it was the intent of Congress when they passed this law to ban phthalates from toys effective Feb. 10th, 2009 and no toys sold after this date should contain any of the six phthalates identified in the law.

This ruling gives parents some peace of mind knowing that after next Tuesday, it will be illegal to sell toys with phthalates. Even with all my scientific expertise, I can't pick up a rubber ducky and tell what kind of plastic it is or whether it contains phthalates. Now parent's won't have to play that guessing game.

 Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) are chemicals used in many common consumer products, including as softeners of plastic children's toys -- like a rubber ducky. Some phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that interfere with production of the male hormone testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities. Numerous animal studies have linked prenatal exposure to certain phthalates with decreases in the male sex hormone, testosterone, birth defects of the genitals, and reduced sperm production.

 However, there are a few wrinkles in what is otherwise a huge win for the health of our children.  

Last week the CPSC issued another ruling saying that while manufacturers will still have to abide by the law, they are going to delay the testing and certification requirement by one year. That means that while it will be illegal to sell toys with these six phthalates,  there is no verification that the toys on shelves will comply with law.

 This delay in the testing and certification is due to the fact that although the CPSC has known for nearly 6 months that these changes were mandated by law, they have spent their time, energy and resources seeking ways around implementing protective measures for our children.

 Instead of finding ways to properly implement this ban and provide reasonable exemptions for certain manufacturers, they have devoted their time to stalling and hindering this process.  Today in America our top retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are taking stronger measures to protect our children than the government agency charged with doing so.  

We hope, with the advent of a new administration in the White House, CPSC's lack of strong leadership is resolved.   Just yesterday, four members of Congress asked for the resignation of the CPSC head, Nancy Nord, and asked President Obama to appoint new leadership at the CPSC.  

We agree, we need leaders who recognize the importance of protecting our children's health and who don't put industry profits before the well-being of future generations.