Let the toy paranoia begin

Don't get the kid a lead pencil/Ryn Gargulinski

Don't get the kid a lead pencil/Ryn Gargulinski

Think twice before grabbing the latest newfangled toy for your tot.

Never mind if the toy has small parts that could fall off and end up lodged in a kid’s throat, or Venetian-blind-like cords that could hang the child from the window.

You need to fret about the amount of lead the toy may contain.

In addition to not allowing your child to suck on old school pencils and lick walls covered in old paint, you should heed the new lead toy blacklist that was announced in a news release from Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

To give you some background, Goddard came to a settlement last year with toy giant Mattel, Inc. and its subsidiary, the fabulous Fisher-Price, Inc., that made the company promise to “implement strict new limits” on the amount of lead in children’s toys.

The company also has to alert the AGs in several states when the lead content exceeds the “strict new limits,” get heartily scolded, and then work with the AGs to “remedy any
such violations.”

That said, we were treated to a recent black list of toys and other items that exceed the “strict new limits,” although we are never told what those limits are.

As a guideline, perhaps, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has a policy with kids’ metal jewelry, where it recalls anything that contains lead in amounts of more than 600 parts per million, or ppm.

Items recently noted by the California attorney general to have high amounts of lead include:

Forget giving the kid a lead can/Ryn Gargulinski

Forget giving the kid a lead can/Ryn Gargulinski

Barbie Bike Flair accessory kit sold by Tuesday Morning, 6,196 ppm

Disney Fairies Silvermist’s Water Lily necklace sold by Walgreens, 22,000 ppm

Dora the Explorer activity tote sold by TJ Maxx, 2,348 ppm

Kids poncho sold by Walmart, 677 ppm

MSY Faded Glory Rebecca shoes sold by Walmart, 1,331 ppm

Reversible Croco belt sold by Target, 4,270 ppm

Paula fuchsia open-toed shoes sold by Sears, 3,957 ppm

Why kids would be sucking on ponchos, croco belts and Sears open-toed shoes may remain a mystery, but we guess it’s better safe than sickly.

We are not sure how much lead will make a kid drop dead, unless a lead safe falls on his head and then we know a single unit will do the trick.

We also know that kids absorb 40 to 50 percent of lead that gets into their mouth, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 percent.

That means we older folks can more safely lick old paint and suck on croco belts.

Watch those reversible croco belts/Ryn Gargulinski

Watch those reversible croco belts/Ryn Gargulinski

While there may be some merit to the lead argument, this type of information still gets classified in the “give me a break” category.

It seems parents should spend more time watching their tots to make sure the kids don’t stick things like ponchos and shoes in their mouth rather than trying to get the lead out of the world that surrounds them.

Speaking of the surrounding world, many soils generally contain lead in amounts of about 10 to 40 ppm, while contaminated soils can soar above 100,000 ppm or more.

So much for those scrumptious mud pies.

Don’t forget, too, that vegetables are grown in soil and, if lead-laden dirt is stuck in the broccoli and not rinsed off, that broccoli is no longer quite so healthy.

May be safer to have the kid chew on open-toed shoes.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who never chewed on shoes as a kid but did once eat a petunia. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

logoWhat do you think?

Do you check the lead content in toys for tots?

Do you check the lead content in everything dang thing you buy?

Do you suck on Sears open-toed shoes?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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12 Responses to Let the toy paranoia begin

  1. Jennatoolz says:

    Hello Ryn!! It’s Friday! Yaaayy!! This week could not have gone any slower…even with all the action that’s been going on in my life lately, haha.

    Anywho, even though it’s cool that people are trying to keep the children safe and healthy, I agree with you when you said parents should be paying more attention to what their kids are chewing on, rather than trying to take the lead out of everything. Not that I want children to be able to have toys that are lead-filled…it just seems like it would be easier to tell the kid, “Hey! This is to play with, not to gnaw on, kiddo!”

    But then again, naturally, kids will chew on anything that they can fit into their mouth. My brother would constantly chew on my Barbies’ hands. All of them ended up with some severe deformities that made for some really interesting Barbie soap opera’s. 🙂

    Puppy Update: Spotted another cutie pants, named Dante, on Craigslist yesterday, and am *hopefully* going to meet him this evening (or Sunday, if today doesn’t work out)! He’s a 4 mo. old german shepard mix, and so, so adorable! Keep your fingers crossed for me! 😀

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jennatoolz!
      happy friday! love your barbie hands anecdote. hope she wasn’t made of metal (haha).  but i’m sure even if she contained no lead, some organization somewhere would come out with some study that said barbie hands contain miniscule amounts of who-knows-what that do indeed lead to to sickness and death or blindness and rickets.
      the handless barbies sound like awesome soap opera material. the only tragedy that struck my barbie was when i tired to curl her wax-coated and highly meltable hair with a curling iron.
      german shepherd mix!!!  yesssssss! fingers are crossed for new puppy addition – just make sure when you do bring a new pup home, you don’t let him chew on barbie hands or dora the exlorer activity totes!

  2. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski. I can’t believe toy manufactures are still putting lead paint in their products…maybe the Chinese and Indonesians have less stringent guidelines for their exports? 🙂 You’d think by now these profit first, consumers last, purveyors of ‘fun’ would get a clue. Is it really less expensive to settle a class action suit than to provide a little quality control?

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax.
      i don’t think it’s just lead paint, but lead as part of whatever material used – maybe lead needed, say, for the rim of the toe opening in the open toed shoes?
      i agree that toy and kid product manufacturers should simply use common sense not to make a toy dangerous – and not wait for a lawsuit or even guidelines demanding they do so.
      p.s. on quality control – at least we know who inspected our products with those little tags that come with ’em: “inspected by 16.” that way we know who to blame, at least (haha).

      • radmax says:

        Rynski…are you tellin’ me that I might have lead in my chartreuse tennis shoes?…or my lavender flip-flops? Disturbing news indeed…say aren’t the Chinese responsible for poisoning their own people with tainted milk? I think they also tried to poison our pooches with melamine, or some other delectable toxin. I tell ya Rynski…it’s a commie plot. 🙂

      • Rynski says:

        you have chartreuse tennis shoes? i’m shocked – i would have for sure put you down as a magenta tennis shoes guy. just when you thought you knew a person….

  3. Jennifer says:

    the lead scare has to do with the unproven but highly likely connection to retardation.  It is the kind of thing where not every child who eats lead becomes slow, but a super high majority of diagnosed developmentally disabled children test high for lead content in their blood:
    Essentially, scientists think that a large portion of our developmentally disabled adults were actually lead poisoned and its a simple fix, don’t use lead paint or make lead products and yet the Chinese continue to …..

    • Rynski says:

      very interesting, jennifer, thanks for input.
      it’s also scary. scary IF cases of retardation could have been so easily avoided and scary, too, that the u.s. will set all types of standards for its own manufacturing of products but then import other products without making sure they fit the standards.

  4. Thomas Hruska says:

    Today’s materials for toys are now mostly plastic – which means that when they fall apart, they can’t be repaired.  Result?  Landfill waste.  We still don’t know the full extent of plastic but I’d wager it is a huge factor in causing cancer (possibly in combination with something else – e.g. microwaves).  There should be more concern with plastic in the mouth of a child than lead.

  5. Rynski says:

    Deborah Wuest, who makes products for infants and toddlers, wanted to pass along this info on how the lead paranoia is affecting her and others (I’m posting her e-mail to me verbatim):

    I tried to post this on your comments section for the toy paranoia section, but I am not sure if it worked. I just wanted to pass this info along, because there are a lot of people who do not know the true implications of the CPSIA law. As a person who makes products for infants and toddlers, I am very concerned about this as it will put me out of business! I have repeatedly written my congress people, state senators, etc etc. As have many of my friends and family members. Now I try to get the word out to others so hopefully they care enough to join the fight and protect our rights to buy quality handmade products.
    Below is my post.

    Thank you for your time and listening!

    Deborah Wuest
    Cranky Cat Studios

    I just wanted to make sure people realize the extent of this CPSIA law that requires testing for lead.

    This effects everyone who makes products for children 12 and under. That includes the grandfather who carves wooden toys for children to supplement his social security, the grandmother who knits hats and mittens to pass her time, the work at home mother that makes tutus so she can afford to be a stay at home mom. And the 16 employees at the small MO company that makes Zhu Zhu pets. Let’s hope none of them lose their jobs at Christmas due to the false accusations of a consumer watch dog.
    I am all for keeping toys and other products safe for kids. But the focus needs to be on the companies who caused this in the 1st place. The large manufacturers who have their product manufactured in another country. Not the small crafter of small business that takes pride in making well crafted and safe items for children.

    The CPSIA is a blanket law that forces everyone to have their products tested for lead by a 3rd party. Most of the large manufacturers have already been exempted from this by forming their own in house testing facilities. The testing required is component testing, which means each part of the whole has to be tested.

    So lets say you have a person who makes handmade dresses. The dresses are very cute with ribbon and frilly lace. They have a zipper with a button at the top. They are very well made as this person only makes 3 dresses at a time and they sell for $100.
    Under the new law, each time this person makes their 3 dresses, they have to test the “batch”. Testing is by component, so the things that must be tested are: fabric, interfacing, lace, ribbon, button, zipper, and thread. Each test runs about $50 – $300. So testing for this dress will cost $ $350 – $2100. This person can no longer afford to make their heirloom quality dresses, because the testing alone costs more than they sell the dresses for. That is not taking into account the cost of materials or the labor of the person. Can they now sell that dress for $500 or more. Not likely!

    The large manufacturer may make 10,000 of the dress at one time ad sell it for $50. That nets them a whopping $5,000,000. plenty of extra to spend the $350 – $2100 to test the dress, pay for their materials and labor and still make a fab profit.

    That is why everyday their are more small operations throwing in the towel. Soon we will only be left with the big manufacturers and we will have little choice left. If you want something handmade it will have to be from someone who will give it to you for free, because they do not meet the law requirements to sell it.

    Parents SHOULD be monitoring their kids better and not relying on the government to keep them safe. We shout foul that the government wants to run health care, and yet no one seems to have much problem with them telling us what we can and can’t buy for our children. Most of the large companies are already in bed with the government and their lobbiest will get them exempted from most of the law any how.

    If you want to learn more, I suggest:

    http://amendthecpsia.com (Where I got the link to your post)




    It’s not too late, but it is getting close!

    ???Who will be impacted by the CPSIA law???

    “That’s the million dollar question here is the million dollar answer.
    Everybody. Who is impacted? Every single person in this country will be impacted by the CPSIA. Every single product sold for children 0 – 12 years whether it be ATVs, motorcycles, clothes, dolls, educational material, furniture, bottles, diapers, EVERY SINGLE THING! Come February 2010 you.”

  6. Yes, it is not just to make individuals who make children’s products by hand to pay hundreds of dollars to get their products tested for lead, but that does mean that we don’t need to pressure the large corporations (who make the toys in which lead is found in the first place) to get their products tested.  Read this blog post from the Center for Environmental Health: http://generationgreen.org/?p=439#more-439

  7. Deborah says:

    Perhaps you misunderstand. I am not saying that things should not be tested. I am saying that there are things that are now required to be tested that have never had any lead or other dangerous substance in them.  For example fabric, leather, wood…… Including organic cotton, bamboo, wool, etc
    The law in effect is a blanket law that excludes no one. And the only persons able to get through any of the loopholes are the very corporations that have had lead found in their products!
    This effects every child’s product. Not just toys. It effects clothing, shoes, dishes, hair bows, diapers, pacifiers, hats,  mittens, bibs, blankets….. ALL products that are made for children 12 and under.
    And with the law currently in effect the way that is is, the only places you will have left to buy products for your children will be the large companies. The ones that caused the problems in the 1st place.
    The law needs to be changed so that parents are able to make a choice  about what they purchase for their children. If it is not, all your handmade, natural, organic, green, and other similar products will be gone and you will be left with plastic toys from the big companies.
    Here are a couple companies that have already been closed due to the law.  These are companies started by individuals concerned about their children,  to provide safe alternatives and allow parents to make a choice.
    Do you like to recycle or purchase used? Because under the new law, thrift shops are not carrying as many children’s products either. That’s easier than trying to comply with the law and take a chance on getting fined.
    Read this blog post about the Center for Environmental Health:

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