Press Releases

Massive Amounts of Lead Discovered in More Children’s Products

Oakland, CA – The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and today exposed extremely high levels of lead in multiple children’s products, including backpacks, children’s rain ponchos, and vinyl lunchboxes. The testing found lead levels ranging from 3,700 parts per million (ppm) to more than 9,100 ppm in four backpacks: Thomas and Friends backpack, Dora the Explorer Go Diego Go, and Hello Kitty’s “Chococat”. A Disney-licensed “High School Musical” backpack tested at over 13,000 ppm of lead, more than 21 times the legal limit (600 ppm) for lead in paint.

“It’s shocking to see incredibly high levels of lead in products for children,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Unfortunately, our nonprofit is doing more to protect children than the federal agency that is responsible for product safety. Our tests show that once again, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is failing to ensure the safety of millions of products for children.”

The CEH, which was profiled in Saturday’s Washington Post, also found a youth rain poncho made by the national camping gear company Coleman, which tested at 17,500 ppm, nearly 600 times the 30 ppm limit agreed to in a 2005 legal settlement that CEH reached with another poncho maker. A vinyl “Mine Eat Trax” child’s lunchbox from Office Depot tested at 2,500 ppm. The CEH today initiated legal action against all the manufacturers and/or retailers of the products under California’s Proposition 65 law.

“Parents are appalled, angry and ready to act to make sure their children do not have toys, backpacks, or lunch boxes with lead in them,” said Joan Blades, President of and co-founder of Move “Tens of thousands of members have contacted members of Congress to demand action. Products with lead in them should never reach store shelves or our children and we intend to hold that vision until it is reality.”

The findings come as the House Energy and Commerce Committee marks up the “Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act of 2007” (HR 4040) Wednesday, which was introduced following hearings at which several Congresspeople expressed strong concern about CPSC’s failures under current acting-Commissioner Nancy Nord. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Bobby Rush have called for Nord to resign.

Last week, nearly a month after CEH announced tests finding high lead levels in a Curious George doll, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finally announced a recall of the toy.

“Since the Consumer Product Safety Commission is failing to protect our kids from dangerous toys and other products, we will continue to alert parents when we find these lead hazards, and to hold the companies that are putting children at risk accountable,” said Green. “Given the Bush Administration’s attacks on children’s health, it is even more important for parents to know that someone is helping them protect their kids.”

CEH has previously identified and won legal agreements to end lead hazards in numerous children’s products, including diaper creams, children’s medicines, home water filters, lunchboxes, baby bibs and others that CPSC failed to find.

Last year a four-year old Minnesota boy died after swallowing a lead-tainted charm. This year, California enacted the nation’s first law banning lead in children’s jewelry, a law based on the group’s landmark legal agreement with more than 100 companies that made or sold lead-tainted children’s jewelry. CPSC still has no standard for lead in children’s jewelry.

CEH has a ten-year track record of protecting children from hidden health hazards in consumer products and protecting communities from health hazards related to toxic pollution. CEH works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.