200,000 toy dolls seized at U.S. ports, including Portland - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

200,000 toy dolls seized at U.S. ports, including Portland

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More than 200,000 toy dolls from China were seized within the last six months at eight U.S. ports, including the Port of Portland, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

The shipments were targeted by the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center beginning in April because of the potential that the products posed a safety threat to the American public, particularly children, the agency stated in a news release.

A total of 10 shipments were seized. They're valued at nearly $500,000, the agency said.

Tests showed the toy dolls contained high levels of phthalates, the agency said. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates are found in hundreds of products, including some raincoats, soaps and detergents.

Currently, six types of phthalates are banned from use in children's toys, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

"They do flush out of the system, but because we're exposed to them every day in so many products ... we're getting too high of a rate of phthalates in our bodies," said Chris Hagerbaumer, deputy director of the Oregon Environmental Council.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not know what the human health effects are from exposure to low levels of phthalates, according to the agency's website. But research shows otherwise, Hagerbaumer said.

"[It impacts] everything from how a child develops in the womb to the skyrocketing rates of asthma for school children, to impacts later in life, like your own fertility," Hagerbaumer said. 

Next February, the Oregon Environmental Council hopes to get a bill passed through the Oregon State Legislature that would force manufacturers of children's products to disclose certain chemicals that are used in those products and phase out ones that pose the greatest health risk, Hagerbaumer said.

The bill got through the state house during the last legislative session, Hagerbaumer said. It got bogged down in the senate.

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