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National Call to "Get the Lead Out" of Kids Toys

March 26, 2007

There's a nationwide call to "get the lead out" of children's toys. There have been 15 lead-related toy recalls in the last year, including two involving Wisconsin companies. Gerie Voss with trial lawyers' group American Association for Justice says the biggest problem is toy jewelry, much of which is imported from countries with lax manufacturing standards. She believes the best answer is a complete ban on toy jewelry containing lead.

"Recalls have not been successful. One recall was even 150 million pieces, and still people had died after ingesting them. They have to go forward with a full ban on lead in toy jewelry, so that we don't have these problems where children are being injured and dying."

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 400,000 U.S. children have elevated lead levels. They cite lead toys as one source, along with lead paint. Industry groups say the ban is overkill, and that it's better to recall products found to be hazardous.

But, at least two children have died from lead poisoning after swallowing lead jewelry; lead can also be leached into the bloodstream by skin contact, or by eating after handling the toys. Voss says lead poisoning is nothing to play with.

"The primary danger for young children from lead poisoning would be brain damage. But it also could lead to other long-term problems like lower IQ levels, causing hyperactivity, or even developmental delays as the children get older."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently taking comments on lead toy regulations.

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WI