In recent years, the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued mass recalls of toys containing excessive amounts of lead paint. Any product for children with more than 0.03 percent lead content exceeds government regulations and is required to be recalled in accordance to government standards. Excessive amounts of lead in the paint and manufacturing of toys and other children’s products presents a high risk of toxic lead poisoning in children, which may result in adverse and severe health conditions, as well as neurological or behavioral disorders. Lead poisoning can even result in death.
Toys and Products Containing Lead
While lead was banned in a number of products in the U.S in 1978, including house paints, cookware, and children’s products, lead paint is still widely used in overseas countries where a large number of children’s products are manufactured. Many toys imported from other countries may still be contaminated with excessive amounts of lead in the paint and other materials used in the construction of the product.
Though the use of lead in paint was banned in the U.S., it was not banned in the use of plastics. Lead possesses the ability to make plastic more flexible, and may be used in plastic toys.
Older and Antique Toys
Toys produced prior to the ban on lead paint in the U.S., including antiques, may contain high amounts of lead in the paint and materials.
Because young children have a tendency to stick objects in their mouths, or suck on colorful or tantalizing toys, children’s products containing more than the government regulated amounts of lead can pose a serious hazard to children. In addition, children often put their hands or fingers in their mouths, posing an even further danger of poisoning over time from a toy containing excessive amounts of lead. Toys or products with small parts are even more dangerous, as these attachments may easily be placed in a child’s mouth, or even swallowed.
Effects of Lead in Children
Children are particularly susceptible to toxic levels of lead in paint and construction materials of toys and other products. Since paints used overseas in the manufacturing of toys and children’s products may contain lead, the risk of hazardous levels in children becomes even greater.
While excessive amounts of lead in the body can be hazardous for all ages, children under 6 years of age are particularly susceptible to the dangers posed by lead poisoning. An excessive amount of lead in the bloodstream can lead to numerous learning and behavioral disorders. Since the blood brain barrier in children under the age of 6 has not yet fully developed, damage from exposure to lead is particularly hazardous, and can cause a number of neurological disorders. In extreme cases, toxic levels of lead in the system can even result in death.
Because levels of lead in the body may take years to reach hazardous limits, and may produce no symptoms for long periods of time after exposure, it has been difficult to track exact statistics related to lead poisoning. Significant studies have proven that lead poisoning is a cause of many neurological and behavioral disorders, including ADHD, brain defects, and a number of learning or nervous disorders.
In March 2006, the CPSC and Reebok announced a recall on 3,000 metal charm bracelets as a result of the death of a 4-year-old girl in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The death was reported as a result of acute lead poisoning after the child swallowed a heart-shaped metal charm attached to a bracelet that had been given out for free with the purchase of Reebok shoes.
Lead Product Recalls
Some examples of children’s toys and products recalled as a result of high levels of lead content include:
Wooden Skill Ball Toys
Approximately 300 units of these toys distributed by Kendamaspot LLC, were recalled as a result of the surface paint containing high lead levels in violation of government standards. These wooden skill balls are manufactured in Japan, and the toy was sold from July 2008 to April 2009 on Kendamaspot’s Web site and in festivals in Washington State.
Super Rigs Play Sets
The “Super Rig Transport” truck, trailer and vehicles set were recalled in the amount of about 700 units imported by Variety Wholesalers Inc., of Henderson, North Carolina and manufactured in China. The multi-colored truck and trailer set, containing two vehicles and two action figures, were sold at discount stores in the southeast from September 2009 to November 2009. The surface coating on the truck contains levels of lead exceeding government regulations.
Young Artist Easels
The surface coating of the chalkboard on these easels contains excessive amounts of lead in violation of government standards. Approximately 10,000 units of the Young Artist Easel were recalled as a result of the government violation. The easels consisted of a chalkboard on one side and a white board on the other side. UPC code 082435133010, and item number AA13301 are visible on the packaging. They were imported from China by Macpherson’s, of Emeryville, California, and sold from July 2004 to July 2009 at art supply stores across the nation and online.
Tot Town Playground Equipment
Distributed by SportsPlay Equipment Inc., of St. Louis, Missouri, and manufactured in Turkey, about 540 units of this playground equipment were recalled because parts including handrails and posts contained levels of lead that exceeded government regulations. Playgrounds involved in the recall include Tot Town Castle Fun Center, Three Panel Aztec Climber, Four Panel Circular Aztec Climber, Tot Town Fun Center, 8’ Web Climber, Rope Wall, and Tea Cup Merry Go Round. The product was sold from January 2003 to December 2007 at various SportsPlay dealers across the nation.