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Warning issued on excessive lead in toys

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown issued a safety warning today, alleging that seven toys and children's products tested by the Center for Environmental Health this month contained leads levels far above the legal limit.

According to the center’s report, Disney Fairies Silvermist's Water Lily Necklace sold by Walgreens contains 22,000 parts per million of lead, more than 73 times the legal limit of 300 set forth by the Federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Gary Foster, Disney's vice president of corporate communications, said the product, which is licensed by Disney and manufactured by Playmates Toys, was tested by Walgreens and Playmates Toys and complies with "all applicable state and federal consumer safety regulations." He added that the discrepancy between the two tests is being investigated.  

The Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit sold by Tuesday Morning, which is licensed by Mattel and manufactured by Bell Sports, contains 6,196 ppm  of lead, more than 20 times the legal limit, the report said.

Bell Sports' vice president of corporate affairs, Thom Parks, said he's not sure when the product was made, "but we do know that it passed federal standards at the time." He added, "I'm not sure how the product got on the shelves at Tuesday Morning."

Mattel's Vice President of Corporate Affairs Lisa Marie Bongiovanni said that while Mattel "doesn't come into contact with the product, control the product, or manufacture the product" the firm requires that its  licensees comply with all applicable standards and provide test reports and data.

Even though those products contain relatively small amounts of lead, Center for Environmental Health spokesperson Charles Margulis said they are dangerous because lead poisoning is cumulative.

"That much lead might not hurt a kid, but kids don't live in isolation. If everyone gets a pass, kids end up lead-poisoned," Margulis said.

In 2008 the attorney general's office reached a $548,000 settlement with several toy companies that had excessive lead levels in their products, according to a statement it released today. Brown's office said the Center for Environmental Health found the violations with a grant from the Public Health Trust, which administers the settlement fund.

The other five products that contain abnormal amounts of lead, according to the CEH, are the Kids Poncho sold by Wal-Mart (677 ppm), MSY Faded Glory Rebecca Shoes sold by Wal-Mart (1,331 ppm), Reversible Croco Belt sold by Target (4,270 ppm), Dora the Explorer Activity Tote sold by T.J. Maxx (2,348 ppm) and Paula Fuschia Open-Toed Shoes sold by Sears (3,957 ppm).

Brown said in a news release that he sent a letter last week to six major retailers warning them that products on their shelves contain illegal levels of lead. He asked them to pull the products from their stores immediately. "Lead is a toxic metal that damages the nervous system and other organs," Brown wrote in the letter. "Even at low levels of exposure, lead can impact brain development in children."

-- Melissa Rohlin

 
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