Despite the record number of recalled toys this year, many toys remain on the shelves may which contain dangerous amounts of lead. Recent tests on over 1,200 children' products found that 35 percent contain lead. Of these toys, many contained lead levels above the federal recall standard for lead paint.
Lead Levels In Toys
The dangers of high levels of lead are well known. Lead exposure can cause irreversible damage, including developmental problems in children and nervous system disorders in both adults and children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended that no more than 40 parts per million (ppm) of lead should be allowed in a children' product. The Federal Government regulates lead in paint (no more than 600 ppm) but has no other guidelines or restrictions to regulate lead content. Thus, there are no limits on lead levels in vinyl toys, plastic toys or children' jewelry or any other item that children may come in contact with.
On December 5, 2007, the Ecology Center, not-for-profit organization based in Michigan released the results of tests it had done (in conjunction with other environmental health groups) on over 1,268 children' products. Seventeen percent of the products tested had levels above the 600 ppm recall standard for lead paint. The study also found other potentially harmful chemicals in many of the toys tested, including polyvinyl chloride and arsenic. Additional information on the chemicals found in toys can be found at www.healthtotys.org.
CPSC' Budget Problems
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the federal agency responsible for protecting the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products, including child products. Hence, the CPSC is responsible for monitoring children' products for dangerous chemicals. However, the agency' staff has dropped from nearly 800 in 1974 to an all-time low of 400 now. Recent events have prompted the House and Senate to consider increasing CPSC' budget, increasing the civil penalties for violators, and granting the agency authority to provide quicker notice to public of potentially dangerous products.
Recalled Toys And Other Potentially Dangerous Toys
A copy of all toys recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission may be found on line at www.cpsc.gov. However, as the Ecology Center found, parents cannot safely presume that a product is safe simply because it is not been recalled by CPSC. Parents should consider checking other consumer websites including www.healthtotys.org. If a parent suspects a toys is unsafe, they should considering removing the toy from the child immediately and contact the CPSC on the internet or over phone at (800) 635-CPSC.
When To Consult A Product Liability Attorney
As recent studies demonstrate, the fact a toy has not been recalled by CPSC does not mean the product is safe. Because there is no federal regulation mandating the maximum level of lead in toy products other than in paint, the toy manufacturers are not bound by any federal standards regarding the lead levels in many of their toys, including plastic toys and vinyl toys.