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Terry Goddard Reaches Agreement with Mattel to Protect Children from Lead

(Phoenix, Ariz. – Dec. 15, 2008) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced a settlement with Mattel, Inc. and its subsidiary Fisher-Price, Inc. (Mattel) to protect children from lead in popular toys.

Attorneys General from 39 states took part in the agreement that requires Mattel to implement strict new limits on the amount of lead allowed in children’s toys starting this month – more than two years earlier than federal law requires such standards to take effect. Mattel also agreed to notify the Attorneys General if it confirms 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.

In addition to these stringent new safety standards, Mattel agreed to pay $12 million to the states. Arizona’s share of the monetary settlement will be $492,530.

“Lead is a serious hazard that puts children at risk of long-term health problems and death,” Goddard said. “Keeping our kids safe cannot wait months or years for federal law to kick in. This agreement goes into effect this holiday season to begin protecting our children immediately.”

Today’s settlement resolves a long-term investigation by Attorneys General in many states, including Arizona, into potentially harmful levels of lead in Mattel toys produced in China. The investigation began in the fall of 2007 when Mattel, in conjunction with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, recalled numerous toys over concerns that the toys contained excessive lead in surface coatings.

Following these recalls, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which limits the amount of lead to 90 parts per million in accessible surface coatings and 100 parts per million in substrates (the base layers of the item). Prior to the passage of this act, the standard permitted for lead in accessible surface coatings was 600 parts per million, and no standard existed in federal law for accessible lead in substrates. These new federal standards, however, are not required to come into effect until February 2009 at the earliest.

Assistant Attorney General Taren Ellis is handling this case and represented Arizona on the nine-state executive committee that negotiated today’s agreement. The settlement, which takes the form of a consent judgment and does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Mattel, was filed earlier today in Pima County Superior Court. Copies of the complaint and consent judgment are attached.

The following states participated in this agreement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. California also took part in negotiations, reaching a separate agreement under its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

For more information, contact Anne Hilby at (602) 542-8019.