OAKLAND - Five juvenile furniture manufacturers are targeted in a lawsuit initiated by California Attorney General Edmund Brown over allegedly dangerous levels of formaldehdye in cribs and changing tables.

The lawsuit was filed pursuant to California’s Proposition 65, which requires manufacturers to provide “clean and reasonable warnings” of chemicals in their products known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The state’s lawsuit alleges that Child Craft, Delta Enterprise Corp., Stork Craft, South Shore Industries and Jardine Enterprises manufactured baby furniture, such as cribs and changing tables, that emit formaldehyde—a chemical known to cause cancer—and failed to provide any warning about this risk.

“We’re suing these companies because parents deserve to know if there’s a dangerous chemical in products for children,” Brown said. “Over the past two years, we’ve brought other actions to ensure the safety of children’s products, 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.”

The Environmental California Research and Policy Center, an organization that evaluates products for carcinogens, tested the companies’ baby furniture. Based on that testing and on his own test results, the Attorney General calculated that the furniture exposes children to formaldehyde gas at levels well above the Proposition 65 limit of 40 micrograms per day.

Businesses that violate Proposition 65 are subject to civil penalties of up to $2,500 per day for each violation. In addition, courts may order businesses to stop manufacturing products that are in violation of the standards. The lawsuit reportedly seeks to remedy past violations and to prompt manufacturers and retailers to prevent baby furniture containing formaldehyde from being sold without warning consumers about the risks of exposure.

The state is also suing the companies for violating the Unfair Competition Law, which prevents businesses from undertaking any action that gives them an advantage over other businesses. In this case, by not posting warnings about carcinogens on their products like other companies must do under the law, the five companies unfairly profited. The state is seeking $2,500 for each violation.

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