Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to compel the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to finalize its proposal to ban the use of five phthalates in children’s products.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform and the Breast Cancer Fund filed the suit in New York City.
The lawsuit was filed shortly after the NRDC wrote a letter to CPSC Chairman Eliot Kaye, requesting the agency issue a final rule by the end of the calendar year.
The commission issued a proposed regulation in late 2014 to ban five phthalates in children’s toys, at levels greater than 0.1%. or 1,000 parts per million (ppm).These phthalates subject to the ban were:
diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP);
di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP);
di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP);
dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP); and
diisononyl phthalate (DINP).
The proposal was based on the recommendation of the Commission’s Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP), following its final 2014 report on the health effects of certain phthalates, and chemical alternatives, in children’s toys and childcare articles.
The CPSC was required to publish the final rule within 180 days of the CHAP’s report on January 14, 2015. But the lawsuit states that the agency has missed this deadline by nearly two years.
The complaint alleges that the commission's delay “exposes the public to serious health risks from exposure to harmful chemicals”.
“Plaintiffs bring this case to compel the agency action required by law,” it says.
If finalized, the five phthalates would join DEHP, DBP and BBP in being banned above de minimis levels in children's products. Interim bans are in place on DIDP, DnOP and DINP. A ban on DINP would be made permanent by adoption of the proposed regulation.
Manufacturers of children's toys subject to these phthalate bans are required to complete third-party testing verifying compliance. Industry groups have long been critical of the burden that this imposes in scenarios where the chemicals are known not to be present.
Earlier this year, the CPSC proposed to eliminate phthalate testing requirements for four common plastics where restricted phthalates are unlikely to occur. But at least one NGO has expressed concern that in the absence of further testing for their presence in the plastics, third-party testing should remain in place.
Although the lawsuit aims to speed up the process, it may not hasten the regulation’s adoption because congressional leaders have told CPSC not to issue any complex or controversial final rules prior to the Inauguration of president-elect Trump.