Press Releases

Health Group Takes Action to Get the Lead Out of Toys

Oakland, CA- The Center for Environmental Health today filed legal notices to makers of toys that could expose children to lead, including toy and comic book company Marvel, after testing by the Center found a Marvel Curious George doll bought at Toys R Us that contained over 6,000 ppm of lead, more than ten times the legal lead-paint limit. CEH also found high lead levels in vinyl lunchboxes and backpacks made by Sassafras Enterprises of Chicago, and sent a legal notice to that company for violating California’s Proposition 65 law.

“The fact that our group is still finding lead-tainted toys and lunchboxes after the recent spate of recalls demonstrates that the government is not protecting American children from these unnecessary lead threats,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “The Consumer Product Safety Commission waits until lead-tainted products are in our children’s hands. We need a better approach that requires companies to demonstrate that children’s products are safe before they are allowed on store shelves.”

There are currently no state or federal laws requiring companies to test children’s products for lead. Toy recalls are voluntary agreements between CPSC and toy makers, but through its legal action CEH intends to set legally-binding testing standards in California to protect children from lead poisoning before toys and other children’s products end up on store shelves.

Federal legislation to set limits for lead in children’s products has been introduced in the House and Senate. The House bill, introduced by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), follows recommendations about toys that CEH made in testimony at a House hearing last month.

In addition to Marvel and Sassafras, CEH today notified Toys R Us, WalMart, Kmart, Sears, KB Toys, Target, RC II Corporation, Michael’s Stores, Costco, and Kids II, Inc for selling lead-laced toys in violation of California law. The nonprofit is continuing its investigations and may add other companies to this list as the research develops. CEH has also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the CPSC for its data on lead in toys.

A California law on lead in children’s jewelry that went into effect last month was based on a legal agreement that was brokered by the Center and the California Attorney General’s office. The agreement with over 100 retailers and producers of jewelry, including several of the companies notified today, set the nation’s first legally binding rules on lead in children’s jewelry.

CEH has a ten-year track record of protecting children from hidden health hazards in consumer products, using legal action to eliminate lead threats from vinyl lunchboxes, vinyl baby bibs, baby powders, children’s medicines, imported candies, and metal and vinyl jewelry.