More than 35,000 Christmas holiday rubber duck toys were seized at California ports due to a harmful chemical this week.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) reported Friday in working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), investigators were able to seize 35,712 rubber duck toys from Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday.
Customs officials said the toy ducks from China, which were dressed as Santa Claus, snowmen, reindeer and penguins, contained higher-than-allowed levels of the chemical phthalates.
The chemicals are used to make vinyl and other plastics more flexible but are easily released into the environment because there is no covalent bond between the phthalates and plastics in which they are mixed.
While people are commonly exposed to phthalates, authorities say the higher-than-allowed levels of the chemical made the product harmful to the health of children.
CPSC regulation prohibits the sale, distribution or importation into the United States of any children’s toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).
“This seizure reflects the unprecedented level of collaboration between CBP and CSPC professionals. CBP incorporates CPSC expertise directly in identifying potentially unsafe products arriving in shipments at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles.
In studies of rodents exposed to certain phthalates, high doses have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The seized toys had a domestic value of $18,522.
Over the past four year, CPSC and CBP have worked to stop more than 8.5 million units of about 2,400 different toys and children's products due to safety hazards or the failure to meet federal safety standards.