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Judge orders toys off store shelves

Banned chemical prompts ruling

Bloomberg News / February 6, 2009
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CHICAGO - Toys containing a plastic-softening chemical linked to infertility and testicular cancer in men must be removed from store shelves by Tuesday, a federal judge ruled.

US District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan yesterday rejected the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's claim that legislation banning the manufacture of toys containing phthalates by that date didn't also bar the sale of toys already made.

"The plain text of the phthalate prohibition provides unequivocally and unambiguously that no covered products may be sold" as of Feb. 10, Gardephe said in a 37-page ruling.

Congress adopted the ban, which also applies to water bottles and other products, in July, following the lead of regulators in Canada and Europe.

After being contacted by lawyers for "several wholesale and retail entities," the CPSC's general counsel issued an opinion letter in November exempting products made before the deadline, the judge said.

The CPSC "has decided to seek neither a stay nor an appeal," agency spokesman Joe Martyak said in an e-mail.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based nonprofit organization, sued the CPSC, seeking a ruling that the congressional ban also applied to existing inventory.

The NRDC was joined in the suit by Public Citizen, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group.

"Today's victory gives parents the certainty Congress tried to provide in the first place, that their children are safe from harmful chemicals in their toys," NRDC attorney Aaron Colangelo said in a statement.

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