November 8, 2007 in Nation/World

Recalled toys can turn into ‘date rape’ drug

From Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review
 

More info

By phone: Consumers can contact Spin Master at (800) 622-8339 from

6 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST Monday through Friday.

On the Web:www.spinmaster.com.

About 4.2 million Chinese-made children’s toys were recalled Wednesday after U.S. regulators learned a chemical on the toy beads turns into a powerful “date rape” drug when swallowed.

Two children in the United States went into comas after ingesting beads that were part of Aqua Dots craft sets. They have since recovered, Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said. Three children in Australia, which also recalled the toy, were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

The toy, distributed by Toronto-based Spin Master, was sold in the U.S. in mass-merchandise stores from April through November of this year, CPSC said. Wal-Mart named Aqua Dots one of its 12 top toys this year, and it was the 2007 Toy of the Year in Australia.

The toy came with different accessories, such as a drying fan, applicator pen, design templates for the beads and spray bottle. All versions are recalled. The product is labeled for ages 4 and up.

The beads can be arranged into designs. The chemical that allows them to fuse together when sprayed with water metabolizes in the body into the drug gamma hydroxybutyrate. GHB is known as a “date rape” drug because it can render users helpless.

Australian officials told Reuters that instead of the safe chemical 1,5-pentanediol, the potentially dangerous chemical 1,4-butanediol was used during manufacturing. When ingested, 1,4-butanediol becomes GHB. It can cause drowsiness, unconsciousness, seizures, coma and death.

In the United States, a 20-month-old child swallowed several dozen beads, became dizzy and vomited several times before slipping into a coma. A second child also vomited and went into a coma.

Michael Brown, a former CPSC general counsel, said it’s unlikely that required CPSC testing would have caught the presence of the chemical.

“Who would ever think about that in a toy?” said Brown, now a product safety lawyer.

Brown said the switch is the kind of problem that occurs when manufacturers are trying to meet deadlines and run out of materials or try to cut costs.

“This is a horrifying recall,” said former CPSC Chairwoman Ann Brown, who is not related to Michael Brown. “We’re just not seeing any let-up in the kinds of dangerous products that are coming in from China.”

The toy was recalled in both the U.S. and Australia on Wednesday. Spin Master said it has stopped shipping the toy. Retailers have removed it from store shelves.

In a statement, Toys “R” Us Inc., said that it issued on Tuesday a “stop sale” on the entire Spin Master Aqua Dots product line in its North American stores and on its Web site after it learned of the news.

Meanwhile, a separate recall was announced for 405,000 children’s products made in China, most of them toy cars, because of dangerous levels of lead.

The recall includes about 380,000 Pull-Back Action Toy Cars imported by Dollar General Merchandising Inc. of Goodlettsville, Tenn., and 7,500 Dragster and Funny Car toys imported by International Sourcing Ltd. of Springfield, Mo.

Four of the recalled products were imported by Schylling Associates Inc. of Rowley, Mass., including the items Duck Family Collectable Wind-Up Toy, Dizzy Ducks Music Box, “Robot 2000” collectable tin robot and Winnie-the-Pooh Spinning Top.

Wednesday’s recalls include about 7,200 Big Red Wagons imported by Northern Tool & Equipment Co. of Burnsville, Minn. Totaling about 405,700, the recalled children’s products all had excessive levels of lead in their surface paint.


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