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Originally published May 28 2008

Many Toys Sold in U.S. Still Contain High Levels of Lead

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) In spite of federal regulations, many toys sold in the United States continue to contain lead, according to reports released by two different non-profit organizations.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) conducted tests on 100 toys purchased in the San Francisco Bay Area, and found that nine contained lead levels higher than those allowed by law. Meanwhile, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) listed nearly 60 toys that contain unsafe levels of lead or pose other hazards to children's health.

The CEH found that one item, a Starletz ceramic tea set, contained lead levels 20 times higher than allowed by law, while PIRG found products with zippers that were up to 65 percent lead by weight. PIRG also listed a pair of earrings from Claire's that was made with small, powerful magnets but did not carry the required warning label.

If swallowed, magnets can tear or block internal organs with potentially fatal consequences.

The dangerous toys were purchased both at major stores like Claire's and Toys R Us, and also at dollar and other budget stores. Some carried brand names such as Nickelodeon, while others had no manufacturer listed.

Toy makers and retailers said they had not been aware of the lead content of the toys, and blamed subcontractors for using illegal ingredients without notifying them. Recently, Chinese government officials shut down some toy factories and increased inspections at others after a subcontractor used a toxic, rather than non-toxic, glue in an Aqua Dots craft toy and several children in the United States and Australia became sick.

A law has been proposed in Congress that would require all toys sold in the United States to be tested by independent labs. The toy industry has supported the proposal

"At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of the U.S. government to ensure the safety of toys," Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said. "You can't say to parents, 'don't worry, we've asked the Chinese to do a better job.'"

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