No Playing Around: Avoid Lead in Toys
In 2007, recalls of children’s toys containing high levels of lead imported from China made national headlines. In response the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) met with Chinese officials who agreed “to take immediate action to eliminate the use of lead paint on Chinese manufactured toys exported to the United States.”
You might be surprised to learn that these recalls are still continuing. Toy recalls for “Violation of Lead Paint Standard” still top the CPSC’s toy recall list. A wide variety of children’s products ranging from toys to clothing items, jewelry, paints, sketchbooks, cards and lunch boxes have been recalled and continue to be recalled.
The CPSC, tasked with ensuring product safety for Americans, is not equipped to monitor all toys imported from China. Our government is taking steps to improve the situation by increasing the CPSC budget and passing the 2008 Consumer Protection Bill in the House and Senate, but parents should still be cautious when buying toys made in China. After all, lead in children’s toys in the United States has been banned since 1978.
There is no easy way of knowing if a toy sitting on a retail shelf is contaminated with lead or not, but parents can take a few remedial steps to protect their children:
• Avoid toys made in China. Since almost everything is made in China, this may be unrealistic.
• Sign up to receive CPSC recalls on infants/child products here.
• As much as possible, avoid buying from dollar stores. Because of lower profits, there is more incentive for manufacturers to use cheaper materials like lead.
• As much as possible, avoid buying used toys. The U.S. government may be stepping up controls now, but toys have been manufactured and imported from China for decades.