At Target this Valentine’s Day: L is for Lead

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A Valentine’s Day stuffed bear sounds like a great gift for the kids in your life. But at Target, don’t get too close to the bear! After all the public attention to lead-tainted children’s products, you might think that major companies like Target would have systems in place to insure the safety of products they sell for our kids.

But you would be wrong.

Testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health found high levels of lead in Valentine’s Day “message” bears sold at Target – the vinyl “message” on the stuffed toys contains more than eight times the federal limit for lead.

Where have we heard this before?

Sadly, we’ve heard this too often before. Apparently the California Attorney General has heard enough as well: he asked Target to immediately pull the toy from store shelves and offer refunds to consumers, whether or not they have a sales receipt.

We have long warned of the hazards of vinyl, after finding high lead levels in vinyl baby bibs, vinyl lunchboxes, vinyl raingear and many other vinyl products. Vinyl is called a “poison plastic” since it creates toxic hazards during production, use and disposal.

The stuffed dog on the left, purchased in 2009, holds a plastic guitar containing high levels of lead. The 2010 version (right) is made with cloth.

While Target is likely not the last place we will find lead-tainted kids’ products, we are proud to note that our work to eliminate this lead threat to kids is paying off, as we are seeing far fewer products made with this poison plastic. For example, during our recent Valentine’s Day shopping we stumbled upon a nice surprise: a Valentine’s Day singing stuffed dog that we found with high levels of lead last year has been reformulated! The new version, while still blasting an incredibly annoying version of the old MoTown hit Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, now features a cloth (not plastic) guitar, and no longer poses a lead threat.

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