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Consumer Protection Week: Terry Goddard Warns Families about the Dangers of Lead in Toys

(Phoenix, Ariz. - March 5, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today warned consumers to shop carefully when purchasing toys and other products for children.   According to the Department of Health Services, high levels of lead can pose a number of health risks, including behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and even death.  Children under six years old are at higher risk for exposure to lead because of their hand-to-mouth behavior. It is important for parents to know the risks and how to protect their children.
 
Since Jan. 1 of this year, seven products intended for children have been recalled in the U.S., totaling some 703,000 units, for having high levels of lead or cadmium.  Both lead and cadmium are toxic when ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has also issued recalls on items that present laceration, amputation, choking and/or asphyxiation hazards. For example, more than one million cribs have been recalled in recent months.

In a precedent-setting case in 2008, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office reached a multi-state settlement with Mattel, Inc. and its subsidiary Fisher-Price, Inc., to protect children from lead in its popular toys. The agreement required Mattel to implement strict new limits on the amount of lead allowed in children’s toys, to notify the state Attorneys General if it finds that lead levels in any of its products exceed state or federal law, and to work with the Attorneys General to remedy any such violations. 

“Lead is a serious hazard that puts children at risk of long-term health problems and death,” Goddard said. “In an effort to further protect consumers, and particularly children, our Office continues to work directly with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure the toys we buy for our kids are safe."

Goddard offered the following tips to anyone shopping for a children’s product: 

  • Check the manufacturer’s suggested age restrictions.
  • Lead may be found in both plastic and wooden toys. 
  • If you think your child may have been playing with toys that have been recalled or may be contaminated with lead, talk with your child’s health provider to determine if testing is needed.  
  • If you have questions about specific toys, visit www.recalls.gov before purchasing to ensure the item has not been recalled.
  • Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site, www.cpsc.gov , to sign up for regular recall notice emails or by calling them at 1-800-638-2772.