Unsafe chemical levels found in toys
Thu, December 6, 2007
Random U.S. testing of 1,200 children's products found 35 per cent contained lead.
DETROIT -- Tests on more than 1,200 children's products sold in the United States, most of them still on store shelves, found that 35 per cent contain lead -- many with levels far above the federal recall standard used for lead paint.
A Hannah Montana card game case, a Go Diego Go! backpack and Circo brand shoes were among the items with excessive lead levels in the tests performed by a coalition of environmental health groups across the U.S.
Only 20 per cent of the toys and other products had no trace of lead or harmful chemicals, according to the results released yesterday by the Michigan-based Ecology Center along with the U.S. national Center for Health, Environment and Justice and groups in eight other states.
Of the 1,268 items tested, 23 were among millions of toys recalled this year.
Mattel Inc. recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys on fears they were tainted with lead paint and tiny magnets that children could accidentally swallow. Mattel's own tests on the toys found they had lead levels up to 200 times the accepted limit.
The U.S. Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys, which is available to the public at www.healthytoys.org, shows how the commonly purchased children's products rank in terms of containing lead, cadmium, arsenic and other harmful chemicals. It comes in time for holiday shopping -- and amid the slew of recalls.
"This is not about alarming parents," said Tracey Easthope, director of the Ecology Center's Environmental Health Project. "We're just trying to give people information because they haven't had very much except these recall lists."
Easthope said 17 percent of the children's products tested had levels of lead above the 600 parts per million federal standard that would trigger a recall of lead paint. Jewelry products were the most likely to contain high levels of lead, the centre said, with 33.5 per cent containing levels above 600 ppm. Among the toys that tested above that limit was a Hannah Montana Pop Star Card Game, whose case tested at 3,056 ppm.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a level of 40 ppm of lead as the maximum allowed in children's products. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible learning disabilities and behavioral problems and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.
A spokesperson for New York-based Cardinal Industries Inc., which sells the Hannah Montana game, said Cardinal was unaware of the environmental groups' tests or procedures but the product has passed internal tests.
"We test every (product) before it ships numerous times," Bonnie Canner said. "We have not tested this product high for lead."
Easthope said the product is made in China. Canner declined comment until she had more information.
The centre and its testing partners found The First Years brand First Keys, Fisher-Price's Rock-a-Stack and B.R. Bruin's Stacking Cups were among the 20 percent that contained none of the nine chemicals.
"There's a lot of doom and gloom about lead in the products -- people only hear about the recalls," said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center's campaign director. "Companies can make clean products. Our sampling shows there's no reason to put lead in a product."
Brand: The First Years
- All components tested are PVC-free and non-detect for lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, bromine, antimony and tin. All keys tested.
HANNAH MONTANA POP STAR CARD GAME
Back of Bag
Lead: 3,056 parts per million (ppm)
Arsenic: 250 ppm
CI/PVC: 6.6 per cent
A Picture of The Hannah Montana Card Game Case can be seen at