LOS ANGELES (CN) - A consumer watchdog group claims a manufacturer, a shoe store and three grocery chains are selling children's flip flops that contain a chemical listed as dangerous by California without first warning buyers or employees who handle the toxic sandals.
Consumer Advocacy Group Inc. says Washington-based Triple T Trading Ltd. makes footwear for children that contains the chemical di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), one of 700 chemicals identified under California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 as causing cancer, birth defects and harm to both male and female reproductive systems. The list was created under the Act through Proposition 65, which carries with it a $2,500 per day per violation penalty, according to the group's lawsuit, filed Los Angeles Superior Court.
"All businesses with 10 or more employees that operate or sell products in California must comply with Proposition 65," the Beverly Hills-based advocates state. "Under Proposition 65, businesses are: (1) prohibited from knowingly discharging Proposition 65-listed chemicals into sources of drinking water ... and (2) required to provide 'clear and reasonable' warnings before exposing a person, knowingly and intentionally, to a Proposition 65-listed chemical."
The group says those who buy Beach Basics Kids' Flip Flops, size 11/12, along with employees who work around the shoes, are exposed to DBP through their skin, by inhaling the chemical and ingestion, which occurs when a person touches the shoes and then touches their mouths.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, di-n-butyl phthalate, also known as dibutyl phthalate, is an odorless, colorless and oily man-made chemical added to plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride plastics (PVC). The chemical is also used to make soft plastics, carpet backing, paints, insect repellents, hairspray, nail polish and rocket fuel, according to the department's toxicology report for DBP.
California added DBP to a formal list of suspected teratogens, chemicals that cause abnormalities in physiological development, in 2006. The chemical was permanently banned in children's toys and childcare articles, in concentrations of 1000 ppm or greater, under section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
The advocates served notice of the violations last year to Triple T Trading, Triple T Footwear, The Kroger Co., Ralph's Grocery Co. and Food 4 Less Holdings Inc., as well as the California Attorney General, county district attorneys and city attorneys for cities of at least 750,000 residents in California, according to the complaint.
The group wants the manufacturer and retailers to properly warn their employees and consumers about the flip flops and also cough up civil penalties.
Reuben Yeroushalmi, Daniel Cho and Ben Yeroushalmi of Yeroushalmi & Associates represent the consumer watchdog group.