We had hoped that by now the lead problem in the toy industry would have been under control either by specific recalls or by public service announcements.
Unfortunately, it appears that we were clearly wrong.
A test of about 1,200 children’s products by a group of consumer and environmental-health organizations recently found that more than one-third of the items contained lead and other dangerous chemicals, including mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Seventeen percent of the items tested exceed the federally accepted standards of safety, which is 600 parts per million, and that is shocking.
Tracey Easthope, director of the Environmental Health Project of the Ecology Center, based in Michigan, spearheaded the project. Even though millions of products have been recalled this year, the number of recently recalled lines remains lower than the number of items listed in the study’s announcement.
The study found a variety of tainted products, including bedroom slippers, bath toys, and card-game cases. Jewelry products were the most likely to contain high levels of lead. The results of the test were publicized with the hope that the federal government will respond and start doing this kind of testing themselves. It isn’t clear whether the group’s lead testing methodology is similar to the one used by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which hasn’t announced recalls for most of the toys on the list.
Some toys on the list were found to have more than five times the standard safety level. Among those in the grouping was a Hannah Montana card game case, which registered a lead level of 3,056 parts per million. A spokeswoman for Cardinal Industries Inc., based in New York, which sells the card game, told the Associated Press that Cardinal was unaware of the environmental groups’ tests or procedures but claimed the product had passed internal tests.
Testers also found cadmium at levels greater than 100 ppm in 2.9% of products and arsenic at levels greater than 100 ppm in 2.2% of products. The card game had not been tested high for lead. The Centers for Disease Control notes that ingesting very high levels of arsenic can result in death, while exposure to lower levels can cause nausea, vomiting, and abnormal heart rhythm.
It’s a real mystery why the government doesn’t step up and start doing its job when it comes to the safety of children’s toys.