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Groups Sue Over Toxic Toys

Consumer groups are crying foul over what they say is an attempt by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to get around a congressional ban set to take effect Feb. 10 on toys containing amounts considered dangerous of phthalates, chemicals that soften plastic and make it more flexible.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan seeking to force the CPSC to enforce the ban and get all such toxic toys off store shelves.

On The Early Show Wednesday, Elizabeth Hitchcock, a public health advocate with US PIRG, explained that phthalates can cause a number of adverse health affects, particularly when young children are exposed to amounts over recommended limits.

But, she says, the CPSC is interpreting the ban in a way that creates a loophole to keep from applying it to all toys that might have been involved.

The agency says the ban means manufacturers have to stop MAKING such toys by Feb. 10, but toys that have already been produced by then can be sold as long as supplies last, which could take years. That, as opposed to making such toys unavailable, period, on that date.

Hitchcock recommends that parents avoid products with phthalates, to play it safe.

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