Consumer group tests toys for lead

October 29, 2009 3:37:50 PM PDT
The holiday shopping season is right around the corner and toys are at the top of many lists. After the series of recalls two years ago, new laws were put into place to help reduce the amounts of lead and other harmful chemicals in toys. But, as ABC 7's Sarah Schulte reports, a consumer group found a few dangerous ones are still slipping through the cracks. The Big Rex and Friends cloth book comes from Toys R Us. It is a touch and feel book for infants, but, according to testing done by Illinois PIRG, a vinyl red dot on one page has dramatically high levels of lead. The consumer group decided to test 87 different products, following a new law that toughens lead standards.

"We found that many products did have lead even higher than the old standard, much more dangerous," said Brian Imus, Illinois PIRG.

Illinois PIRG tested toys and costume jewelry from Target, Claire's ,Toys R Us and the Dollar Tree. Everything came back safe from Target, the infant cloth book was the only toy from Toys R Us that PIRG found unsafe, two items from Claire's were found to be dangerous, and three from the Dollar Tree did not meet the current standards. For the first time, the consumer group used a $40,000 piece of equipment called a XRF analyzer to test the equipment.

"Out of the 87 toys we found that were 6 that violated more than lead than should," said Imus.

While it is a small number, Illinois PIRG says six is too many.

"I think parents for the most part should feel pretty safe results show that not every toy is safe, and more diligence needs to be done," said Imus.

Doctors agree. Dr. Elizabeth Powell with Children's Memorial says an increasing amount of information shows that any amount of lead exposure can be harmful to kids.

"The findings that we're looking for on a population basis in low level lead exposure is just verbal deficits, motor deficits and they measure IQ to figure out what these developmental issues are," said Powell.

As for the products that Illinois PIRG found unsafe, Dollar Tree responded by saying it will pull the products off its shelves until an investigation is complete with further lab testing. Toys R Us says the XRF gun PIRG used for testing gives unreliable results. Yet, the toy company will stop the sale of the infant cloth book and retest the product.


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