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Mattel Toys – 3 Recalls in 36 Days: What’s all this Danger of Lead Paint?

Posted on Sep 4, 2007 in National Issues

Mattel Toys is issuing its third product recall since August 1st, many due to toys manufactured in China where lead paint was used.  In the US, any toy with 0.06% lead paint must be recalled.  That's not much. The Associated Press reports that 80% of the world's toys are made in China, so expect more recalls to follow Mattel's lead (pardon the pun). What toys are being recalled?  And, what's the real danger of lead poisoning anyway? Mattel has a list of all recalls at its website.  The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has its own list of Mattel recalls here - going back to 1979.   These recent recalls involve very popular toys (yes, Barbie's involved) and some that are targeted to very young folk (think Fisher Price). For example, Mattel's Elmo Stacking Rings (shown here) were recalled earlier in August because of lead problems.  What kid doesn't chow down on these things? What's the big deal about lead? Okay, first why use it?  It's good as both a pigment, and because it helps paint to dry faster. What's the danger?  In young children (0-6), lead poisoning can impact their physical growth: stunting IQs, delaying development, damaging their central nervous system and causing hearing loss.  Older kids and adults can get kidney disease from ingesting lead; it can cause reproductive problems as well as high blood pressure and other ailments; and enough lead taken into the body can be fatal. Why do all these recalls?  First, it's the right thing to do.  Second, it's required by law.  Third, it helps to limit the liability of the corporation in any future lawsuits where babies or young kids have been harmed by these Chinese-painted toys.   Out there, somewhere, are children who may already have injected lead and been harmed by it - but the injuries haven't revealed themselves yet.  When the suit is ultimately filed to get Mattel to pay for such things as medical expenses, long-term care costs, etc., Mattel can point to these recalls as part of its defense, to limit its liability. For more information on lead poisoning, see the Environmental Protection Agency's site concering Lead Poisoning. See, 16 CFR 1303 (permissible product lead limits established in 1978).

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