US recalls more Chinese toys due to lead

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New York, Sep 28 (UNI) As many as 5,50,000 more Chinese toys were recalled following the hazardous levels of lead found in many toys made of vinyl plastic, potentially expanding the scope of testing and recalls of contaminated toys.

''A random testing of more than 50 plastic toys found high lead content in 11 of them, 10 were made of polyvinyl chloride, and three contained extremely high lead levels,'' a campaigner for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice Mike Schade was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

Tests of the backpack found lead levels as high as 4,600 parts per million. The standard for lead in paint set by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is 600 parts per million.

Millions of Chinese-made toys and products have been recalled this summer because of lead contamination in their painted coatings. In separate announcements on Wednesday, Target and RC2, the makers of Thomas&Friends wooden railway toys, recalled 5,50,000 toys.

The coalition of environmental and consumer groups that organised the testing has called for a recall of all toys containing polyvinyl chloride. Their findings were made public yesterday.

''It's absolutely astonishing to us that lead continues to be found in children's toys despite the fact that consumer and environmental groups have been warning the government about this issue, '' Mr Schade, whose group coordinates a national campaign to phase out vinyl plastics from consumer products and packaging, said.

In recent months, recalls have shaken the US toy industry, led to a surge in testing, prompted Congressional hearings and raised calls for more stringent testing rules. In the spring, pet food was also recalled because it contained melamine. More than 20 million pieces of children's jewellery also have been recalled because of lead in the last three years.

Acute exposure to lead, by chewing on a lead toy, for example, or repetitive exposure to lead by handling toys that contain it, can lead to severe neurological and behavioral problems.

Lead was banned in paint on toys and other children's products in the US in the 1970s, but the problem has arisen again as more toys are imported from China.

At least 80 per cent of toys sold in the United States are made in China, mostly through outsourcing arrangements to vendors.


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