Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lead Based Toys Controversy

Eyebrows McGee(a.k.a. Laura Petelle) sent me this link to a story about Mattel's lead based toy policies. As a parent, it is very frustrating. WHOI did a toy safety check last year and I remember one toy in particular. It was stacking blocks. Some of them contained lead and some of them didn't. They came from the same package. There is really no way to know for sure if the toy your child is chewing on does or does not contain lead. Oh-and lead is extremely detrimental to brain development and very hard to get out of the body. Figures!

Here's what Laura had to say: "I certainly won't be buying Isaac any Mattel toys until they use
third-party testing labs. It's criminal that the company responsible for six recalls that drove the push for improved testing was able to buy their way out of the new law with lobbying. I know we all expect that from corporations, but Mattel apparently doesn't care that children's lives are at risk."

FROM YAHOO: Toy-makers, clothing manufacturers and other companies selling products for young children are submitting samples to independent laboratories for safety tests. But the nation's largest toy maker, Mattel, isn't being required to do the same.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently, and quietly, granted Mattel's request to use its own labs for testing that is required under a law Congress passed last summer in the wake of a rash of recalls of toys contaminated by lead. Six of those toys were produced by Mattel Inc., and its subsidiary Fisher-Price.

The new law sets strict limits for lead, lead paint and chemicals known as phthalates. It mandates third-party testing for companies, big and small, making products geared for children 12 and under.

"It's really ironic that the company that was a principal source of the problem" is now getting favorable treatment from the government, said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif.

Mattel is getting a competitive advantage, Green said, because smaller companies must pay independent labs to do the tests. Testing costs can run from several hundred dollars to many thousands, depending on the test and the toy or product.

Mattel says it demonstrated to the CPSC that its products go through rigorous safety tests. Spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni also said Mattel has an appropriate "firewall" in place to ensure test results are protected from corporate influence.

"We have extremely qualified people who work feet away from our production lines," Bongiovanni said. "It allows us to do more testing than any other toy company out there."

Lead can cause irreversible brain damage. The six Mattel-related recalls in 2007 involved more than 2 million toys. They were part of a slew of recalls by several dozen companies. The recalls frightened parents and pressure came to bear on Congress to pass the new law, known as CPSIA. Mattel and Fisher-Price have not had any lead recalls since.

In June, Mattel agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty for violating the lead paint ban.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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