Rubber Ducks Seized: Dangerous Toys A Risk To Children?

By IScience Times Staff Reporter on December 10, 2012 4:27 PM EST

35,000 holiday toys - including countless rubber ducks - were seized by officials in L.A. because they believe there's a substance that can be harmful to children.
35,000 holiday toys - including countless rubber ducks - were seized by officials in L.A. because they believe there's a substance that can be harmful to children. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Rubber ducks seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection have high levels of phthalate, which could be harmful to children.

A staggering 35,000 holiday toys including snowmen, gingerbread men, penguins and reindeer were seized on Dec. 4 by police and import officials at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach. 

The ducks, which were valued at $18,522, were found to have unhealthy levels of phthalate, a material often added to plastic to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Because phthalates are so effective they are used on countless items including medical devices, detergents, paints, pharmaceuticals, food products and textiles. "Phthalates are so ubiquitous," CBS News said, "we all have traces in our bodies."

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But not all phthalates are created equal. In the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Congress banned six phthalates from children's toys and cosmetics if they exceeded anything more than one percent. 

Congress was under pressure two years ago to take a more active role in phthalate regulation because of a study that Dr. Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical School, conducted looking at the levels of phthalates in a group of pregnant women and the baby boys they gave birth to. Swan found that boys, in particular, were negatively affected.

"We found that the baby boys were in several subtle ways less completely masculine," she told "60 Minutes."

Dr. Howard Snyder, a pediatric urologist at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, told the show at the time that he had also seen a disturbing increase in deformed sex organs among boys.

"There's just too much incremental data that has built up to be ignored. I think it's a real phenomenon," Snyder said. "I really, honestly do,"

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