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Ducking Safety Standards? 36,000 Rubber Ducks Seized At SoCal Ports

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) —  Port officials have seized nearly $18,000-worth of rubber ducks that contain levels of a chemical that may not be safe for children.

More than 35,000 ducks, decorated as Santa, snowmen and other holiday figures, were seized Dec. 4 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. They had been shipped from China.

The customs agency said Friday that it worked with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission in determining that the ducks contain an excessive level of a regulated phthalate, a chemical used to make vinyl and plastics soft and flexible.

Phthalate has reportedly been linked to birth defects, early puberty, infertility, asthma and ADHD.

CBS2/KCAL9's Rachel Kim discussed the seizure with Austin Price, a consumer advocate with the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).

"Kids are always the most susceptible because toddlers put everything in their mouths. Toys that contain above 1000 parts per million of phthalates are banned," Price said.

CALPIRG recently released their annual toy safety report called "Trouble In Toyland," which warns about the presence of lead, magnets and other hazardous materials in toys today.

Price said toys containing low levels of phthalates are still sold in toy stores, even large-scale retailers.

"Toys sold in the state of California have to have a label if they contain a toxic chemical. But, as you can see here, the label is pretty small. This, in fact, contains phthalates," said Price, while examining a Dora The Explorer backpack.

While shopping for holiday toys, Price suggests getting ones made of wood or cloth. He said parents should avoid substances made with chemicals, like the soft plastic found in the rubber ducks.

Price said the biggest threat to children is choking hazards: "A great test tube is an empty roll of toilet paper. If a toy fits inside this cylinder, it's too small for a kid under three years of age."

To report an unsafe product or find more information on recalled items visit

For the "Trouble In Toyland" report click here.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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