WASHINGTON - AUGUST 14 - In reaction to Mattel Corporation's second recall in as many weeks, the Sierra Club issues the following statement from Executive Director Carl Pope:
"These recalls will continue until the federal government and children's product manufacturers cooperate to protect children from toxic toys. Toys and trinkets should not be making our kids sick. New Consumer Product Safety Commission rules would spell out ways to ensure quality control so that we can prevent producing lead children's toys instead of just recalling them.
"Further, manufacturers and federal agencies must join together in asking China to clean up its business practices and factories for the protection of its workers and both Chinese and American children.
"Producers of children's products should not simply pass the blame on to their overseas manufacturers but also do their part by cooperating with U.S. agencies to minimize lead poisoning risks and reviewing and carefully testing all products in their lines which are manufactured outside of the United States. We encourage parents to remain vigilant about the toys their children use, especially as the holiday gift-giving season approaches. Our Web site www.sierraclub.org/lead has tips for parents to keep our children safe."
After a child in Minnesota died as a result of eating a pendant containing lead on a pair of Reebok shoes last year, the Sierra Club petitioned both EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging preventative action. The Commission granted the petition and has taken steps to ban lead in toy jewelry and now the EPA is taking action as well.In a settlement with the Sierra Club and Improving Kids’ Environment, the EPA agreed to take the first crucial steps to protect children from toxic toys. This settlement creates a proactive system to lessen children’s exposure to lead. As part of this agreement, the EPA will ask the Consumer Products Safety Commission to place greater emphasis on quality control for all children’s products. In addition, the agency will tighten safeguards and will take steps to require importers and manufacturers of children’s products to provide health and safety studies on the potential presence of lead in their products.
Laws requiring companies to notify the EPA immediately of substantial health risks from their products have been largely ignored by importers, distributors and retailers, and the EPA will now enforce those standards more stringently. Up to 120 companies who may have violated the law by not reporting dangerous products to EPA will now face greater scrutiny.
Lead can affect the brain development of young children and has been directly linked to a wide range of learning disorders. While lead paint in older homes is the major cause of childhood lead poisoning, many children are also being exposed to toxic lead through the toys they love and the products they use. More than 300,000 American children have blood levels high enough to cause irreversible damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every one of these cases is avoidable. (Tips on keeping children safe from lead toys can be found at http://www.sierraclub.org/lead.)