[Pharmwaste] Suit Challenges Agency Over Phthalates Ruling Article
dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Fri Dec 5 11:31:23 EST 2008
DECEMBER 5, 2008 Suit Challenges Agency Over Phthalates Ruling Article
By MELANIE TROTTMAN
Two consumer advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the
Consumer Product Safety Commission's decision to allow makers of
children's products containing phthalates to continue selling those
goods as long as they were made before a congressional ban takes effect
on Feb. 10.
The two groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public
Citizen, say the congressionally mandated ban should apply retroactively
to inventory made before Feb. 10. But the CPSC says it shouldn't.
In the lawsuit, the groups allege that the CPSC is failing to carry out
its role of implementing the phthalates ban, which they say will cause
harm to consumers exposed to the chemicals. Some studies have indicated
that phthalates, which are used to render hard plastics flexible, can
harm early childhood development.
Meanwhile, some members of Congress have said the CPSC's interpretation
of the phthalates provision is incorrect. Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer
and Dianne Feinstein, both of California, have taken issue with the
agency's opinion, along with Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D., Ill.).
Last month, Congressman Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), chairman of the
subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, called for a
hearing on the battle over phthalates. That hearing, which could occur
as early as next week, would also address a similar fight over another
provision that will reduce the amount of lead allowed in and on
children's products as of February.
The CPSC decided that the lead provision, unlike that for phthalates,
should apply retroactively to inventory, a decision that manufacturers
have unsuccessfully tried to reverse.
The two consumer groups say the agency's decision not to enforce the ban
retroactively creates a loophole in the legislation that will allow
retailers to stockpile and keep selling allegedly harmful products.
"By permitting sale of banned products after the date of the statutory
ban, it contradicts Congress's clear command," the plaintiffs said in
the lawsuit filed in federal court in New York.
CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said the CPSC "does not look for
loopholes when it comes to safety" and is "committed to protecting
American families." She added the agency "is enforcing the law as
Congress wrote it. If the authors of the legislation meant something
different, then they should have chosen their words more carefully so
the law was clear in its intent."
Congress enacted the ban on phthalates as part of its sweeping overhaul
of consumer-product safety regulations in August. The tougher rules
followed a string of high-profile product recalls that included
dangerous levels of lead in children's products and tiny magnets that
could harm children if swallowed.
As part of the new law, three types of phthalates will be banned from
children's toys and child-care products starting Feb. 10, while three
other types of phthalates will be temporarily prohibited pending further
research into their effects.
Manufacturers of products containing the chemicals argued against a ban
because they say phthalates are safe. Now, they say they should at least
be able to sell off their inventory indefinitely to in part protect them
from economic harm.
Write to Melanie Trottman at melanie.trottman at wsj.com
Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email: dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address: www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
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