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Consumer Group Finds Lead In More Children's Toys.

Extremely high levels of lead were found in a Go Diego Go backpack, a Superfly monkey and a pair of Circo Lulu boots, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (a group dedicated to ridding the world of PVC) reported in a new study released yesterday. In all, 11 items they tested contained lead levels and/or heavy metals well over the safety standard.

Consumer Alert

Today, the United Steelworkers (USW) launched a major campaign to "Protect Our Kids--Stop Toxic Imports."  Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference today, USW President Leo W. Gerard said:

Toxic toys. Lead-laced baby bibs. Poisoned pet food. Red lead in Chinese-made steel. ... It's time for this to stop.


WASHINGTON - China-made kid's jewelry, toys recalled

By CHRISTINE SIMMONS, Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 27, 6:57 AM ET

Toys and children's necklaces made in China were recalled Wednesday, including five more items from the popular Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, because they contain dangerous levels of lead.

RC2 Corp.'s "Knights of the Sword" series toys and some of its Thomas and Friends items, along with floor puppet theaters and gardening tools and chairs for children, were among the more than 601,000 toys and children's jewelry announced in the recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

In all, 11 items they tested contained lead levels and/or heavy metals well over the safety standard, 10 of which contained PVC, or vinyl. The backpack had levels of 4,600 parts per million. The CPSC standard is 600 parts per million

Consumer Alert

Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference today, USW President Leo W. Gerard said:

Toxic toys. Lead-laced baby bibs. Poisoned pet food. Red lead in Chinese-made steel. Every day the list of imported products that endanger our families and workers grows. It's time for this to stop. Our political leaders must deal with the failed trade policies that are the root cause of this crisis.


The USW will distribute thousands of Get the Lead Out Screening kits and spearhead a series of "Safe Home Sessions" so families can learn more about protecting themselves and their loved ones.


You may remember that the Steelworkers created  the Blue Green Alliance with the Sierra Club last year:

The United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest private sector manufacturing union with 850,000 members, and the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization with 750,000 members, announced today the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World.

Blue Green Alliance

Gerard was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is sponsoring legislation to safeguard consumers from unsafe food and other products and require country-of-origin labeling. Says Brown:

From food to toothpaste, toys to tires, we must do more to protect our families from contaminated and defective imports. Safeguarding consumers from unsafe products is the most basic of government functions—we must protect our families and our children.

While Chinese and other imports are the major source of concern, domestically made products must be screened more carefully, especially in light of the Bush administration’s cuts in the number of inspectors and staffers at the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission. Gerard puts it this way:

China’s attempt to export its poor standards is a serious problem, but a huge number of dangerous imports are made for North American manufacturers that choose profits over safety. Meanwhile, our government regulatory agencies are being gutted. Those facts are equally as disturbing.


In early August, John Edwards called for increased regulation of imported toys.  I'm sure he will support the Steelworkers in their efforts here.  Everyone should.  

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Aug 3, 2007

In the wake of a flurry of safety recalls of imported toys and other goods, particularly from China, Sen. John Edwards called on leaders in Washington to take immediate steps to reduce the growing risk posed by unsafe trade and ensure the health and welfare of American consumers. This week, for example, Fisher-Price issued a recall over concerns that imported toys, mostly from China, were tainted with levels of lead far above U.S. standards - thereby posing a serious health risk to America's children.


"The recall of Fisher-Price toys highlights the need for smarter, safer trade and consumer protection policies in this country. I've talked about what we have to do to make food safer. Now with nearly 80 percent of children's toys made in China, we need to strengthen our ability to ensure the safety of products designed for our children's hands. We need tougher penalties for safety violations and we need to look at solutions like third-party testing of imported toys. At the same time we need to put the Consumer Product Safety Commission back on the side of consumers—instead of having their travel bought and paid for by the industries they are supposed to regulate."

The Growing Threat To America's Families Posed By "Unsafe Trade

Go to protect-our-kids ( for more information on the campaign and Safe Home Sessions, to order Get the Lead Out kits and to sign an online petition calling for stronger laws and regulations to stop toxic imports and other dangerous products.

Toxic Trade Petition


Our children should be the top priority of our government. That is why I am signing this petition imploring you to help put an end to unregulated toxic trade that is threatening our families with everything from lead-laced baby bibs and toys to toxic tooth paste. We need tougher trade laws that not only safeguard consumers but protect our jobs. We need to stop toxic imports from ending up on our store shelves and in our homes. We need a strong Consumer Product Safety Commission and other regulatory agencies in North America to inspect the imports flooding our countries. And we want corporations to be held accountable if they put profits over our families’ health and safety. Please take action now to protect our children and stop toxic trade!

From the CDC:

Exposure to lead should be avoided. Lead is highly toxic to humans, especially young children. It has no known physiologic value to the human body. Nearly half a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause irreversible damage to their health.

Center for Disease Control

Please sign the Petition and support this effort.  Lead causes brain damage and other organ damage in babies and small children.  

Lead accumulates and can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, kidney damage and even death. It can be removed - but only if you know it is there.

Get the Lead OUT!!!

Don't let them harm our kids anymore for the almight buck!

online petition

Originally posted to TomP on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 10:43 AM PDT.


Get the lead Out?

31%10 votes
43%14 votes
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18%6 votes

| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips to Get the Lead OUT! (19+ / 0-)

    Help this effort.

    "The greatest anti-poverty movement in American history is the organized labor movement." John Edwards

    by TomP on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 10:36:11 AM PDT

  •  This is why our trade policies must change (10+ / 0-)

    from free-trade, free-market to balanced-trade, balanced-market. This stupendous outsourcing of hard-working middle-class and lower-class American workers' jobs to cheap-labor no-quality China must stop right now. We have towns-after-towns and villages-after-villages in the rust belt of Michigan,Ohio,Illinois who have the only business left in them is a pizza place. We should not outosurce our manufacturing to cheap-labor no-quality China.

    •  And the trade we do engage in with China (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChaosMouse, Predictor, TomP

      needs to be negotiated so it's not incumbent on the Chinese to produce cheap product, period, but quality, safe product for a fair wage!  We can't let corporatists get away with pinning the blame on the Chinese when they're the ones who negotiated these deals.  We need a populist posture, not a protectionist posture!

      "If [John Edwards] seems too good to be true, well, so be it; instead, you can pick a candidate who's bad enough to be plausible." - dKos' own Drew

      by Junior Bug on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 11:17:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where's my 6 weeks vacation? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Norway, the Netherlands, Germany etc should put an embargo on US products (assuming there is such a thing any more other than porn and broadcast rights to NBA games).

        Our labor standards are pretty weak compared to theirs and with Bush destroying the dollar, we make below their minimum wage these days.

        But I did see some Latvian-made, of all places, toy trains in the Ikea.  I think I'll buy some for my 2-year-old.  They looked pretty sturdy.

  •  Good diary (11+ / 0-)

    These poison toys destroy GOP talking points about the "dangers" of over-regulation.  China is, for all intensive purposes, one of the "freest" markets in the world.

    I'm glad to hear them blaming the American companies for enabling these business practices.

    Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Buddha

    by zenbowl on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 10:41:51 AM PDT

  •  Does anyone know about those lead-testing kits? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Junior Bug, pioneer111, TomP

    I was reading an article yesterday that they weren't very effective, but I can't remember where I saw that.  Does that sound familiar to anyone?

    •  Might I add that putting teeth back into the (6+ / 0-)

      CPSC would be a great thing.

      I find it scary that lead can be in anything.  Even those bibs from Toys'r'us.  Not just things you might suspect after the recent disclosures.

      •  Good Point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mdgarcia, Predictor, TomP

        and I was just going to ask about this.  I can understand lead being in the paint used on toys, jewelry and such.  
        But how could lead be in fabric or plastic-based items like baby bibs and backpacks?

        Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.- not George Carlin

        by donnamarie on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 11:00:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think heavy metals are used to make toys shiney (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chillindame, donnamarie, TomP

          and for other reasons I'm sure, like coatings on the bibs and backpacks.  For instance, until recently, candle wicks could be made with lead inside, so they would burn nicely, and then spread burned lead in the air.  Not that anyone really noticed of course, it was a big issue about 10 years ago.

          The real question, is when are the Democrats going to apologize to China for this?

          everybody love somebody...

          by toys on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 11:13:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Answer (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Lead is often used as pigment.  Lead-based pigments are cheap and very effective.  As for plastic, sometimes it's used as a pigment, other times it's used as a stabilizer.

          Here's how it works as a stabilizer.  When polyvinyl chloride is stressed -- by exposure to sunlight, by being heated, or simply by being rubbed or bent -- a small part of the polymer breaks down.  Since you have   a lot of hydrogen and chlorine atoms in it, one of the breakdown products is hydrochloric acid (HCl).  HCl is a strong acid and would cause the plastic to break down even more, so the companies add lead compounds that are designed to react with the acid and neutralize it.

          These are the compounds that have traditionally been used for this purpose, but tin and calcium-based compounds are just as good and almost as cheap.

          The past seven years of my professional life has been devoted to forcing companies world-wide to make the change from lead-based to calcium-based stabilizers.  This has generally worked wrt the industries I've focused on -- electronics, clothing, tools, exercise weights.  Most of the companies agreed to reformulate their plastics and take the lead out.

          We settled one case with Ross Stores wrt kids backpacks, but our colleagues at the Center for Environmental Health focused on kids lunch boxes.  They settled their cases earlier this year, forcing the manufacturers to get the lead out.

          There are still, however, lots of product in the pipeline, which these companies are selling through.

          This aggression will not stand, man.

          by kaleidescope on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 12:29:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  My understanding of the bib situation (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          donnamarie, TomP

          was that there was paint on the fabric and then a laminate material was placed over it.  The problem comes when the child chews on the bib and the folds and creases eventually turn into brittle cracks exposing the paint underneath.

          Initially, Toys/Babies r Us posted a warning, short of a recall, not to let your child chew on the bib if it was compromised.  CNN and a few other outlets publicized this, and TRU was forced to issue a recall.

    •  Advice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sura 109, TomP

      I've been practicing toxics enforcement for a long time and lead in product cases are my bailiwick.  The most effective lead test kits available are LeadAlert brand made by a company called, PPI Pace, which is out of Tucker, Georgia.  

      These kits give you ten Q-tips, a bottle of acetic acid leaching solution and a test card with ten test circles on it.  You put 2-3 drops of the leaching solution on the Q-tip, then rub it on whatever surface you want to test.  Then you touch the Q-tip to a test circle.  If the circle or the Q-tip turns red or pink -- even if just a little -- you've got lead.

      My colleagues and I have used this test literally thousands of times testing products in stores.  We've found them very, very useful and have used the results to sue Wal Mart, Target, Cost Plus, J.C. Penneys, Sears, Home Despot as well as electronics manufacturers like General Electric, Belkin and Linksys.

      And for a complete disclaimer, I have no economic interest in PPI Pace, nor does anyone I know.

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 12:20:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It will be interesting (5+ / 0-)

    to see what happens this Christmas season.  Will consumers stop buying cheep and bright?

    Facts about the states

    by SMucci on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 10:59:34 AM PDT

  •  So why is Mattel apologizing to China? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mdgarcia, Predictor, TomP

    "It is not be cause things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." Seneca

    by MontanaMaven on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 10:59:42 AM PDT

    •  Cuz everybody involved is guilty. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Predictor, TomP

      New research from two business professors shows that recalls due to problems with the designs of U.S.-based companies accounted for about 76 percent of the 550 U.S. toy recalls since 1988.

      So the companies are too eager to get a product out without adequate testing.  They give manufacturing over to the very free market of China and the American people won't let go of cheap crap.  

      "It is not be cause things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." Seneca

      by MontanaMaven on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 11:08:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about the amount of crap adult jewelry (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chillindame, chesapeake, Predictor, TomP

    being imported and sold via the hundreds of cable shopping channels? We need universal lead testing kits--the kids may chew on mommy's necklace.

    Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.
    --Basil King, Canadian novelist, 1859-1928

    by dallasdave on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 11:35:42 AM PDT

  •  Lead imports are one issue among many (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChaosMouse, Predictor, TomP
    that we need to take up. With regard to China, progressives and labor must also consider what their position should be with respect to China's human rights violations, including those occurring in Tibet. Once the public concern over lead is smoothed over or ignored, these issues should not be allowed to fade away.
  •  I just wish that some manufacturer... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would see this as an opportunity to start making toys again in the US.

    My trust-o-meter is busted and my give-a-damn is barely hanging on.

    by chillindame on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 11:57:35 AM PDT

  •  Think of the... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChaosMouse, Predictor, TomP

    millions of painted "dustcatchers" sold in the US every year that are made in China, both wooden and resin.  Go to any JoAnn's store or a catalog like "Terry's Village" and you will see them by the thousands.  And while those products have not received any publicity, I would bet you that many of those items have high levels of lead in them too.  


    My trust-o-meter is busted and my give-a-damn is barely hanging on.

    by chillindame on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 12:05:45 PM PDT

  •  I can't belive that Bush backed down (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to China over this issue. He's such a political rat and a moron to boot.

    Thanks for printing this, I hope that this issue doesn't get swept under the rug by the Republicans like all the other negative stories.

    Maybe if we make their kids and grandkids play with these toxic toys, they would change their minds???

    ...strength is not without humility. It's weakness and untreatable disease, and war is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. Bono

    by Peperpatch on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 12:09:11 PM PDT

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