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Victory! Toxic toys come off shelves next week

Remember how Congress banned dangerous toys as of Feb. 10, 2009? And how the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in its infinite wisdom, decided that even though manufacturers had to stop making toys with phthalates, they could stay on store shelves past the Feb. 10 date?

Fortunately, wiser heads have prevailed. Thanks to a victory today in a lawsuit filed by Public Citizen and the Natural Resources Defense Council, toys with phthalates – plastic softeners that are really dangerous for children – must come off store shelves next week.

“The court understood that Congress spoke plainly and simply that, as of next Tuesday, these six dangerous chemicals will be banned from children’s toys and child care products – period,” said Brian Wolfman, the Public Citizen attorney who worked on the case, also director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group. “We are extremely gratified that our kids are going to be protected, and we are confident that the CPSC, manufacturers, distributors and sellers will obey the law and assure that these products are off the shelves by next Tuesday.”

The European Union banned the use of most phthalates in children’s toys in 2005 based on the idea of the “precautionary principle,” which basically says you should make sure something is safe before putting it on the market, rather than selling something and using the public as guinea pigs.

“As a result of CPSC negligence, infants in this country have sucked on plastic toys, and phthalates have gotten into their system long after their European counterparts were protected from such risks,” says Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of health research at Public Citizen. “It is accurate to describe CPSC actions as operating under the ‘reckless principle.