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Target To Pay $600k Penalty For Lead

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, October 16, 2009 1:39 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Children's Health, Lead, Lead Paint, CPSC, Lead Test Kits, Consumer Reports

Target agreed to a $600,000 fine over lead containing toys on its store shelves.

Target Denies It Violated the Law


IMAGE SOURCE: CPSC Web site/ image of Kool Toyz , October 2009

Target Corp., of Minneapolis, Minnesota has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine after an illegally-high concentration of lead paint was found on toys carried in the stores.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the civil penalty for violating the federal lead paint ban on toys.

Lead is toxic if ingested and can impair learning in children and has been linked to brain and kidney damage.

The penalty settlement was accepted by the Commission and resolves CPSC allegations that from May 2006 through August 2007 Target knowingly imported and sold toys with paint or surface coatings that contained lead above legal limits.

The toys identified include Kool Toyz Products, Anima-Bamboo Collection Games, Happy Giddy Gardening Tools and Sunny Patch Chairs.

Kool Toyz children’s products are made in China.

Target had voluntarily recalled more than 500,000 KoolToyz play sets and other toys between November 2006 and September 2007, reports Minnesota Public Radio.

Target denies CPSC allegations it violated the law.

Retailers have been put on alert that they are responsible of ensuring that no toys of children’s products have lead-containing paint that can risk lead poisoning in children.

“These highly publicized toy recalls were among many that helped spur action last year to impose even stricter limits on lead paint on toys,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “This penalty should remind importers and retailers that they have always had the same obligation to meet the strict lead limits as the manufacturers.”

Lead Levels

The federal lead ban has been in place since 1978.

The volume of toys importe, primarily from China, that violated the ban came to light in during the holiday season 2007 when almost 14 million items were recalled for excessive levels of lead.

Since then lead restrictions have been tightened.

Beginning in February 2009, the total lead content in any children’s product cannot exceed 600 parts per million (ppm). Six months later that level drops to 300 ppm under the new federal law. Previously, federal limits of 600 ppm applied only to paint or surface coatings on products.

Consumer Reports says, “That created a regulatory loophole allowing the sale of vinyl, metal, and plastic products with worrisome amounts of lead.”

What Consumers Can Do

Lead test strips are available for consumers to test their own products if they have any doubt at home.

Consumer Reports recently reviewed the kits for accuracy. Three of the five home lead-testing kits were useful, Consumer Reports finds. They work by detecting surface or accessible lead, although Lead Check says you just have the scratch the surface to find lead under the top coat.

If any toys or jewelry test positive for lead, remove it from your children.

Homax Lead Check $8
Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, $18.45

Made by the same company, these two kits use cigarette-shaped swabs that turn pink when they detect lead. Consumer Reports finds they were the easiest to use and identify accessible lead.

Find them on-line at: Lead check

Homax shows us how to test for lead with pictures and reminds us that even a liner of a lunch-box can contain lead.

Lead Inspector $13

This kit uses swabs too that turn yellow, brown, gray or black if lead is detected. This might be a good kit for painted metal jewelry, the consumer group finds. Also this kit is the preferred choice for items that are pink or red because they might not show up as well on Lead Check. Chemicals emitted from test kits should always require user to wear gloves and protect skin.

Find Lead Inspector online at: http://www.leadinspector.com/

First Alert $13

Consumer Reports say that there were a few false negatives with this test kit.

Find First Alert at their Web site:

Pro-Lab Lead Surface $10

Consumer Reports didn’t like this kit. Moistened paper used to check for lead often fell apart before the two-minute timer was over. Their web site has more.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) evaluated lead test kits last year, largely with negative results.

After using them on a variety of paints and other products containing different levels of lead, the CPSC found there were false negatives and false positives. Of the 104 total test results, more than half were false negatives and two were false positives.

None of the kits detected lead if the surface was covered with paint. #

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