Brown sues baby furniture manufacturers

Legal News Line Sep. 24, 2008, 11:17am

Jerry Brown (D)

OAKLAND, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Following recent efforts to curb dangerous products used by children - most notably lead in toys - California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued five manufacturers of baby furniture on Tuesday.

The lawsuit alleged products made by Child Craft, Delta Enterprise Corp., Jardine Enterprises, Stork Craft and South Shore Industries emit the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde, and that the companies did not provide any warning about the risk to consumers, according to the attorney general's office.

"We're suing these companies because parents deserve to know if there's a dangerous chemical in products for children," Brown said in a statement.

Scrutiny over children's products reached its height in 2007, following a recall of 19 million Chinese-made products by Mattel, the world's largest toy importing company, which produces such popular toys as Barbie and Hot Wheels.

Brown said his latest lawsuit carries on the effort to protect children.

"Over the past two years, we've brought other actions to ensure the safety of children's products," Brown said, "such as lead in toys and phthalates in baby bibs. Increasingly, the wood and other materials in consumer products are produced globally, and the lack of tough safeguards and strict enforcement can lead to dangerous levels of exposure."

In November, Brown joined Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo in suing 20 toy companies for manufacturing and selling toys with unlawful quantities of lead.

Tuesday's lawsuit alleged the manufacturers did not comply with Proposition 65, passed in 1986, that requires "clear and reasonable warnings" of chemicals in products known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, the attorney general's office said.

The Environmental California Research and Policy Center tested the companies' baby furniture for levels of formaldehyde. Brown said the level of emissions exceeded the Proposition 65 limit of 40 micrograms per day.

"In addition to being a carcinogen," the attorney general's press release stated, "formaldehyde has been shown to contribute to respiratory problems like asthma. The levels of formaldehyde gas emitted from the baby furniture, when combined with other potential sources of formaldehyde in the home, are high enough to cause respiratory irritation to children sleeping in the cribs."

Each of the five companies faces civil penalties of $2,500 per day for each violation.

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