Wal-Mart Recalls Baby Bibs For Worries Over Lead Content

Wall Street Journal

Little Rock, AR
— The discovery of lead in the fabric of a brand of baby bibs sold at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has resulted in a recall of the items, the company said.

The bibs, sold under the Baby Connection brand name, came in
packs of two to seven bibs, with embroidered prints or images of Sesame Street
characters. Some were sold as long ago as 2004. The bibs were made by Hamco
Inc. exclusively for the Bentonville-based retailer.

Mia Masten, a Chicago-based spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the
vinyl portion of the bibs exceeded the lead levels set by Illinois for children's products. She said
the company had worked with the Illinois
attorney general's office to pull the items and later decided to expand the
recall nationwide.

Ms. Masten said about 60,000 of the bib bundles were sold in Illinois without any
reported injuries.

Ms. Masten said officials with the world's largest retailer have
been in contact with Hamco, but referred all questions about the products'
manufacturing to Hamco.

Officials at Hamco, a subsidiary of Crown Crafts Inc. of Gonzales, La.,
said the company has no comment and referred questions to Wal-Mart.

The Illinois
attorney general's office identified the bibs as being sold between June 2004
and the end of March of this year in Wal-Mart stores throughout the state.
Tests on three styles of the bibs tested positive for lead more than 600 parts
per million, Illinois's standard for lead in children's products, said Robyn
Ziegler, a spokeswoman with the attorney general's office.

While Wal-Mart pulled the product from its shelves nationwide,
Ms. Masten said only customers in Illinois
would be eligible to receive refunds or replacements. It wasn't immediately
clear why the refunds only covered Illinois.

Initially, Ms. Masten said the recall only pertained to Illinois. Later
Wednesday, she said it was nation-wide.

Wal-Mart's recall comes after a lawsuit over the bibs by the
Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland,
Calif. Alexa Engelman, a
researcher there, said the center became aware of the bibs in September. Ms.
Engelman said a report by an independent laboratory test contracted by the
center showed the bibs contained 16 times the amount of lead allowed in paint.

Lead, used as a stabilizer in vinyl plastic, can be "easily
substituted" for other products, Ms. Engelman said.

Public health experts consider elevated levels of lead in blood
a significant health hazard for children. Studies have repeatedly shown that
childhood exposure to lead can lead to learning problems, reduced intelligence,
hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. There is no lead level that is
considered safe in blood, and recent studies have shown adverse health effects
even at very low levels.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement
Wednesday saying that the bibs were safe if in good condition. However, if a
bib "deteriorates to the point that a baby could pull or bite off and
swallow a piece of vinyl containing the lead, then the amounts of lead consumed
could approach levels of concern," the agency said.

Those who purchased the bibs in Illinois can return them at their local
Wal-Mart for a full refund or can receive a free replacement.

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