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comments on toys
Response to some of Bill Carroll's points:
First, in his response to the initial release of our report, he said,
"most of those products aren't toys anyway" (something to that
effect). Toys R Us told us they consider everything they sell to be
a toy. If you look at hackey sacks and Kentucky Fried Chicken Play
Food, you have to ask Dr. Carroll what he thinks they are, coffee
table conversation pieces? As for exposure scenarios, Do you really
think kids won't put vinyl play food in their mouth? As Jackie said,
kids under three put just about everthing in their mouth.
"While phthalate plasticizers are primarily used with PVC, lead and cadmium
can and have been used in almost any plastic."
First, notice the admission that phthalates are used primarily in PVC.
The toxicity of phthalates is the reason why numerous countries and
companies have taken action by removing PVC teething rings from the
shelf. In the US the companies are hiding behind scientific
uncertainty because the weak-kneed CPSC does not apply the
precautionary principle. (When they found lead to be a problem
in mini-blinds, they didn't recall them either, only required
them to be labeled, which meant they were sold at a discount,
mostly to poor people who are already disproportionately exposed to
lead --especially in the big cities.) While phthalates are labeled
with warnings like "avoid contact" when you buy them for lab use,
the toys are labeled "non-toxic" though they leach these same
chemicals when they are sucked on by kids.
Second, other plastics don't require the stabilizers that PVC does,
because they aren't as brittle. Sure they can be found in paints
used as colorants in other plastics, but does that justify their
being in PVC toys? (It's ye olde "they do it, so why can't we"
"Practices differ around the world as we saw when imported miniblinds
were found to contain lead but domestic equivalents did not. For
many, if not most, of the articles tested there are vinyl products
available that do not use either lead or cadmium as pigment or
Yet nearly all toys are made where they still use these additives.
Go into a toys store and try to find a toy that's not made in China.
Furthermore, it's not like you get a "safe" product without the
metals. There are still other dangerous additives (like the
phthalates), and the PVC itself, with all its problems (least
recycled of all resins, produces dioxin when disposed by
incineration, etc.) I.e. it sounds like the vinyl industry is ready
to make a "safe cigarette" argument here.
"Levels of lead of about 200 ppm (0.02%) are consistent only with its use as a
pigment, not as a stabilizer. They might, in some situations, also be
consistent with inadvertent contamination the product saw along the way."
If it's used in the pigment, and in many instances the levels
we found were above 600 ppm, the level the CPSC applies to recall
lead in paint, then how come they don't recall these products?
Lead showed up in thousands of parts per million in many cases. It
also showed up in many different colored items. What color pigments
use lead? Where still used, what levels does lead show up as a
stabilizer, if I may ask? If lead is co-mined with zinc and shows
up as a contaminant, then won't it show up even where it's not
Here are the levels found in Round 2 of our Chicago tests:
Tweety purse (Warner Bros). 3,320 ppm lead, 84.0 ppm Cadmium
Batman and Robin Tent Pole (Toys R Us) 5,715 ppm lead, 15 ppm Cadmium
Minnie Mouse umbrella (Toys R Us) 1,685 ppm lead, 337 ppm Cadmium
The CPSC staff-recommended limit for lead in vinyl blinds was 200
ppm. The limit for lead in paint is 600 ppm. How come they don't
recall these products if, as Dr. Caroll says, the lead is probably
in the paint, not in the resin as a stabilizer?
Dr. Bill wrote:
"The question is whether that low level of lead or cadmium is
available, and whether it might reasonably be expected to be used so
as to extract it. I cannot imagine the use of either in a toy
designed to be put in the mouth."
1) What about toxic chemicals like phthalates used in teething rings?
2) As Jackie Christensen said, kids put just about anything in their
mouths. Plus, the lead can appear in dust on the surface as the
products degrade (or right out of the package). Kids can handle the
product then stick their hands in their mouths. So there's more than
one exposure route involved.
Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign
847 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th floor
Chicago, IL 60607
Ph: (312) 563-6063
Fax: (312) 563-6099
Note new e-mail address: Charlie.Cray@dialb.greenpeace.org