“Toxic toy crisis” requires fresh solutions

Published in the American Chemical Society’s semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology, analysis by Monica Becker, Sally Edwards and Rachel Massey shows that since 2007 the US government has recalled more than 17 million toys and other children’s’ products, many of which have been manufactured overseas because the products contained substances whose ingredients are either suspected or recognized as being damaging to children’s health.

Actions taken thus far to restrict the uses of these materials have been inadequate, and the report’s authors recommend significant changes in policy to offer the consumer confidence in products for children.

Source: ACS Publications

Further research regarding the “toxic toy crisis”: cadmium and lead found in drinking glasses

Laboratory testing commissioned by the Associated Press has found that many drinking glasses featuring comic book heroes and cartoon characters contain higher than legal levels of cadmium and lead. The testing was part of an ongoing investigation into products marketed towards children containing dangerous chemicals, and was initiated in response to a recent recall of 12 million ‘Shrek’ glasses issued by McDonald’s fast food chain because of cadmium escaping from the colourful designs.

Cadmium is used to create the red and other colours in the designs, and in a separate round of tests the glasses were found to shed notable amounts of lead and cadmium when handled.

The creators of the glasses say that they are collectors’ items, not advocated for use by children, and if this is proved to be so by the federal regulators then the levels of dangerous chemicals would be within the legal limits for adults. However if the US Consumer Product Safety Commission deems the products to be “children’s products” –which is more likely given that they are sold next to other kids products like t-shirts and school lunchboxes on the Warner Brothers and other websites – then the manufacturing companies would be liable for legal action.

The AP testing involved using a state-of-the-art Olympus Innov-X gun that shoots rays into the glass and estimates the quantities of cadmium, lead and other elements present. The glasses then went off to ToyTestingLab which is an accredited laboratory, where they were stroked 30 times with water soaked wipes, which were then analyzed for content by microgram. Finally they were subjected to an extraction which involved using a diamond tipped grinder to scrape off the enamel, suggesting that the lead levels found in the design were fairly safely and strongly bonded to the glass. However, the levels were very high according to Paul Perrotti, director of ToyTestingLab. Perrotti and the glass engineers interviewed said that over time and with repeated washes using scourers and dishwashers, the enamel would be likely to break down, thus releasing the dangerous elements for consumption by children.

Lead has long been known to reduce IQ in children and recent research suggests that cadmium can damage children’s brains. Cadmium is also a carcinogen that can cause harm to kidneys and bones.

Source: NPR.org (now defunct link)


Further research regarding the “toxic toy crisis”: Feds dismiss need to recall lead drinking glasses

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First Published in November 2010

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