Posts tagged: toy recalls

My First Public Rant (Awww! How Cute!!)

By , December 12, 2007 10:43 pm

Does anyone else find it odd that there has been only one lead paint-related toy recall since Curious George on November 8?

Yesterday I was finally sorting through my children’s toy cars and trying to weed out those that appeared to be unbranded, cheap Dollar Store cars after I heard this on NPR. It occurred to me that after the recent flurry of lead paint recalls, now, during the busiest toy shopping season of the year, the recalls appear to have stopped. A coincidence? I think not. But then I tend to be cynical at times.

I know that the “branded” cars probably have as much chance of containing lead paint as the cheaper anonymous variety, after all, every single one of ours was made in China. It angered me that I felt compelled to sort through the cars. I felt helpless at the thought of all the cars that I chose not to take away, knowing that they quite likely could contain lead paint also.

Should I get rid of all my children’s cars? Should I eliminate all toys and give the children cardboard boxes and organic vegetables as toys instead? Do I need to buy a home lead test kit?

The non-profit Consumers Union tested five home kits and recommends three of them: Abotex Lead Inspector Kit , Homax Lead Check, and the Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit. I can’t imagine testing all our toys for the presence of lead paint! Have any of you done this? If so, what were your findings?

Another point to consider if you do want to give this a try at home: these kits only test the surface paint. You can check what is underneath, but to do that you must first chip away the surface paint. Apparently the lead paint is only harmful if it is ingested, so underlying paint theoretically is OK as long as your child does not bite through or scratch/wear off the surface paint.

Is it all OK then? No!! I, like most of you, of course don’t even want UNDERLYING lead paint in my house. But what a monumental task testing it all!! Every little bit and piece. Every accessory. Just because one item in a play set is OK, doesn’t mean they all are.

Think about it. If it would be hard for you to personally thoroughly test all your household toys, how is it for THE SINGLE INSPECTOR assigned to test the millions of toys that enter the US each year! (See also: Safety Agency Faces Scrutiny Amid Changes, New York Times, September 2, 2007). While you’re at it, check out the photo of the CPSC impact testing “lab” here.

And what does one do with suspicious or positively proven lead-based toys? Donate them so that poor children who’s toys all must come from thrift stores are the ones being poisoned? Throw them away to pollute landfills? Put them in a box in the attic?

I am also angry about phthalates. I learned in this NPR Fresh Air interview that phthalates (chemicals used to make plastic soft and pliable) are banned in Europe. European toys and products contain a non-toxic, yet equally as effective and reasonably costing substitute. Apparently author Mark Schapiro (the interviewee) claims in his book Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power (which I have not read), that Chinese factories sometimes produce the EXACT SAME TOY with the phthalates for the US market and use the substitute chemical for the Europeans! According to Mr. Schapiro, toys containing phthalates that are confiscated and refused by European customs officials are returned to China and routinely then shipped to the US.

I don’t usually get too worked up over every little scandal. Of course if you feed a lab rat seventeen times its weight of any substance in a single day it will most likely not fare well. The media love making huge mountains out of “the latest study” and then we never hear about it again. Unfounded and exaggerated internet rumors abound and I do not wish my blog to contribute to their perpetuation. But this toy crisis strikes me as a real cause for concern.

Not that I wish to publicly assign myself a vintage, but I was born in the 1960’s and played with toys through the late ’60’s and ’70’s. Who knows what manner of unknown poisons I was exposed to and I have apparently survived relatively intact (so far anyway). But the difference is that now we have knowledge of these harmful substances and yet we continue to use them in our children’s toys. Babies, children, and young adults, whose brains are continuously developing well into the 20’s, are exposed to known toxins in their toys!

OK, I’d better stop here or this rant will turn really ugly. If you have the stomach for it, here are the links to the stories that set me off:

NPR: Testing Toys for Lead (December 6th)
NPR’s Fresh Air: Mark Shapiro – Exposing a Toxic US Policy (November 26th)


You have got to take a few minutes and watch this parody cartoon from Consumers Union that helps explain the toy problem:

Not in My Cart

(Via this link, if you wish, you can also send an email letter to your local Senators in support of S. 2045, The Consumer Product Safety Reform Act of 2007.)

If you are interested in putting links on your blog to the Consumers Union’s campaigns, including the promotion of toy safety, then you can click here to access their Blog Tool Kit.

And finally, here is a list of 12 Toy Shopping Tips for a Safer Holiday from Consumer Reports.

Curious George Contains Curious Paint

By , November 9, 2007 10:27 am

I am not happy that my blog seems to be turning into an extension of the CPSC Toy Recall page, but I do feel the need to spread the word to other parents who might be as uninformed as I usually am.

My bloggy friend Heather, aka Celtic Mommy, emailed me this morning about this new recall that she found (thank you!). If your child has a Curious George stuffed toy, then you had better check it out. Five different ones are recalled, not just the one in my photo.

Hopefully you won’t be having to tear a favorite lovey out of your sobbing child’s arms. How sad.

I am Back From Pluto

By , November 8, 2007 12:55 pm

Yet again, I am the last person on the planet to learn of something.

Last night I wrote a post about the latest toy recalls. The extent of my research involved checking the CPSC toy recall page, seeing if we had any of the recalled toys, and cutting and pasting the links to my post. Well, that’ll teach me to not carefully read the recall notices…and to not let my kids make way to much noise during the NPR newscast…and to not toss the newspaper into the recycle bin unread.

I should have read the Aqua Dots recall more closely before simply mentally filing it away as “just another choking hazard.” Not that the recall notice gives the whole story, mind you.

Why do I think I can inform people of the latest news when I myself am as informed about the affairs of Earth as a Martian on sabbatical to Pluto? Anyhow, thanks to a comment on yesterday’s Weekly Lead Paint Post, I have been abruptly brought back from Pluto with a bang and a puff of pink smoke. (Thanks Earthling Karen!).

Here’s the latest toy horror, that you have all heard about already no doubt:

Aqua Dots (“Bindeez Beads” in Australia) have a chemical coating that, when swallowed and metabolized, converts itself to the “date rape” drug GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate for any chemists out there). Lovely.

Honestly my first thought was that this was some sort of apocryphal internet rumor like used hypodermic needles dripping with heroin found in McDonald’s ball pits, or spider eggs as the main ingredient of chewing gum. But apparently it is legit. CNN says:

Scientists have found the popular toy’s coating contains a chemical that, once metabolized, converts into the toxic “date rape” drug GHB, or gamma-hydroxy butyrate, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson told CNN.

“GHB is this drug that in low doses actually causes euphoria,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. “In higher doses, it can cause people to go into a coma. It can cause seizures. It can cause something known as hypotonia, where all your muscles just become very flaccid.”

Listen to NPR’s stories from today:

Aqua Dots Recall Challenges Consumer Safety in US


Toys Recalled for Lead, GHB

What is one to say about this? I am speechless. May I go back to Pluto now please?

Weekly Lead Paint Post

By , November 7, 2007 8:38 pm

Unfortunately this lead paint post has become a weekly event. But here are some new toys that are affected by the recall. A few are nice wooden “unplugged toys” that I would actually have bought (but fortunately didn’t). Four are made by Schylling, a brand I really like. How sad.

bullet Schylling Associates Recalls Collectable Toy Robot Due To Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet Schylling Associates Recalls Dizzy Ducks Music Box Due To Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet Additional Spinning Top Recalled by Schylling Associates Due To Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet Schylling Associates Recalls Duck Family Collectable Toy Due To Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet Toy Cars Recalled by Dollar General Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet International Sourcing Ltd. Recalls Toy Dragster and Funny Car Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet Toy Figures Recalled by Henry Gordy International Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet Toys “R” Us Recalls Elite Operations Toys Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

bullet SimplyFun Recalls Ribbit Board Games Due to Risk of Lead Exposure

And a few more recalls for other reasons:bullet
Laugh & Learn™ Kitchen Toys Recalled by Fisher-Price Due To Choking Hazard

bullet Swimways Corp. Recalls “Skippy” Pool Toys Due to Laceration Hazard

bullet Spin Master Recalls Aqua Dots – Children Became Unconscious After Swallowing Beads

All links and photos are from the CPSC website.

Check Your Toys Again – More Lead Paint

By , November 1, 2007 1:50 pm

A recent check of the CPSC website revealed a whole new list of recalled toys due to lead paint:

Guidecraft Inc. Recalls Children’s Puppet Theaters Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard (This is the tabletop puppet theatre, the large floor puppet theater was recalled earlier)

Toy Figures Recalled by Henry Gordy International Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

Toys “R” Us Recalls Elite Operations Toys Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

SimplyFun Recalls Ribbit Board Games Due to Risk of Lead Exposure

Jo-Ann Stores Expands Recall of Children’s Toy Garden Tools Due to Violation of Lead in Paint Standard

Fisher Price Recalls Go Diego Go Boat Toys Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

J.C. Penney Recalls Disney™ Winnie-the-Pooh Play Sets Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

Bendable Dinosaur Toys Recalled by Kipp Brothers for Excessive Lead

Also recalled (for other reasons):

Dunkin’ Donuts Recalls Glow Sticks Due to Choking and Strangulation Hazards

The Gymboree Corp. Recalls Toy Swords Due to Breakage and Laceration Hazard

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