July 14, 2011 in Nation/World

Lead levels in toys stricter

Allowed toxic metal content to be cut by two-thirds
Ellen Gabler Chicago Tribune
 
New limit goes into effect Aug. 14

 When the new standard adopted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission takes effect Aug. 14, the total lead content allowed by weight in any part of a children’s product will be no more than 100 parts per million, down from 300 parts per million.

 Bigger manufacturers, such as Hasbro, have already been testing to the lower 100 ppm limit. And some retailers like Walmart began requiring suppliers to comply with the 100 ppm limit last year.

 But smaller businesses have said it could mean job cuts or failed companies because of increased testing costs, more expensive materials and products that may have to be cleared from store shelves and thrown away on Aug. 14.

Associated Press

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission decided Wednesday to lower by two-thirds the amount of lead allowed in toys and other children’s products.

A toxic metal that is particularly dangerous to young children who are still developing, lead accumulates in the body over time and has been linked to behavior problems and lowered IQs.

Over the past few years the commission has overseen recalls of millions of kids’ products that were found to contain high lead levels. The stricter regulation for lead has been in the works for a few years.

Starting Aug. 14, toys and children’s products cannot contain more than 100 parts per million of lead, down from the previous limit of 300 parts per million.

Some business owners, manufacturers and toymakers, however, think the new regulation is overly burdensome and won’t improve product safety.

Richard Woldenberg, chairman of Learning Resources Inc., a maker of educational toys and products, said manufacturers and retailers can’t always control trace amounts of lead or impurities in materials.

Woldenberg, who also serves as chairman for the Alliance for Children’s Product Safety, which represents business owners, said lowering the limit to 100 parts per million hasn’t been shown to be any safer.

Commissioner Thomas Moore said while the agency hasn’t been able to quantify the benefits of reducing the limit from 300 parts per million to 100 parts per million, the scientific community has said there is no level of lead exposure to kids that has been deemed safe.

The 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act called for the agency to adopt the 100-parts-per-million limit by August unless it was determined that such a limit was not technologically feasible.

On Wednesday the commission voted 3-2 along party lines, with Democrats agreeing it was feasible for companies to make products below the 100-parts-per-million mark.

“Consumers can rest assured that lead should be virtually nonexistent in toys and other children’s products,” said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

Companies can petition the safety commission if they decide it is not “technologically feasible” to make their products comply with the new limit, spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

The agency could then grant a waiver for the product. So far, no waivers have been granted, but the agency might review some recycled plastics and recycled metals, Wolfson said.


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