Federal government sues California companies for unsafe toxin levels in children's toys

Sunday, March 02, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: toy companies, unsafe toxin levels, federal government

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(NaturalNews) Leaded gasoline for vehicles and lead-based paint for homes used to be the norm, as the dangers of lead went unnoticed. While the public has become aware of lead's health dangers, there remains concern for high levels of lead persisting in children's toys. These toys, typically imported from China, can induce blood lead levels exceeding 5 micrograms per deciliter in children, which is unsafe, according to new EPA safety standards.

Lead toys contribute to behavioral and learning problems in children

Children are most sensitive to lead, which can affect the cells of almost every organ in their body. Competing with calcium absorption in the bones, lead toxicity can stunt growth and hinder brain function. The EPA also attributes many behavioral and learning problems to lead, including hearing problems, anemia, lower IQ and hyperactivity. If a child is becoming hyperactive and showing learning disabilities, the best next step forward would be to remove lead-based products and tainted foods and toys from the child's everyday life.

CPSC finds alarming lead levels in 61 of 66 imported toys

While investigating 66 imported toys at a California import dock, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that 61 of these toys contained unsafe levels of lead and other toxins. The findings have prompted the federal government to sue the toy importers, which include Toys Distribution Inc. (TDI), S & J Merchandise Inc. and BLJ Apparel Inc.

US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. is taking six toy company officers to federal court, in hopes that they will stop importing and selling toxic toys that contribute to behavioral, growth and learning problems in children. The complaint states that the CPSC has collected and inspected 66 toy samples from TDI's warehouse since 2008 at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The record states, "In total the CPSC found 61 of these samples to be children's products in violation of CPSC statutes and regulations. The violative samples included children's products and toys with illegal levels of total lead content, lead paint, and phthalates; toys intended for children under three years of age that contain small parts; infant rattles which may cause choking and/or suffocation; and children's products and toys lacking required certification based on third-party testing and lacking tracking labels."

The federal court proceedings come after the regulatory agency spent six years writing letters to the toy importers, including 23 letters of advice from June 14, 2008, to September 14, 2011, which clearly notified the toy distributor defendants of the violations.

Toy cars, phones, kitchen play sets and dolls are potential lead and phthalate hazards

Lead levels were highest in motorized "pull back" toy cars and musical toy instruments. Another area of concern was endocrine disrupting phthalates, which were found high in toy dolls.

Unsafe levels of lead were also pervasive in toys distributed by All Seasons Sales, including a children's kitchen set and a play police set. Numerous model cars, along with a toy telephone, contained unsafe lead levels.

The lead coming from these toys is readily absorbed, breathed in and ingested as children play, put the toys close to their face and stick them in their mouths.

"CPSC and our federal law enforcement partners are committed to keeping dangerous toys out of the marketplace all year long," CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said in a statement accompanying the 27-page lawsuit. "Manufacturers, importers and retailers need to know that CPSC and the Justice Department are actively enforcing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a law that has strengthened the nation's product safety net."

According to the Justice Department, S &J Merchandise, BLJ Apparel and All Seasons Sales have agreed to settle the suit by consent decree, pledging not to commit violations put forth by the Consumer Product Safety and Federal Hazardous Substances Acts. The settlement is still pending, while the leaded toys continue to roll in from China.

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