High Levels of Lead in Kids’ Products – Yet WalMart May Continue to Sell Tainted Items

Update: After thinking it over for a day, WalMart decides to pull products nationwide.

Oakland, CA-The Center for Environmental Health has found high levels of lead, in violation of federal standards, in five children’s products from WalMart and Target. The California Attorney General has notified the companies, and in response, Target is stopping all sales of the products. But according to the Attorney General’s office, WalMart is pulling some products only from its California stores.

“We cannot understand how WalMart can continue to sell these lead-tainted products to children in any state, or any country,” said Caroline Cox, Research Director at CEH. “It’s been more than two years since federal law established strict limits to protect children from these kinds of lead threats. Clearly WalMart needs to do better for our families.”

Independent testing commissioned by CEH found high lead levels in two chairs sold for toddlers at Target. Testing showed that one of the Target chairs contained more than 70 times the legal limit for lead.

Testing of WalMart products found high lead levels in a toddlers’ bean bag chairs, youth boxing gloves and toy foam beads sold for children’s jewelry. The items ranged from more than 3 times to more than 45 times the legal limit.

The products were purchased between September 11 and September 18 from Bay Area outlets of the two retailers and online from the companies’ websites.

CEH also purchased a lead-tainted bounce house online from CSNStores.com via the WalMart.com website; the nonprofit notified WalMart today that the product contains high levels of lead in violation of California law.

CEH also found high lead levels in violation of California’s jewelry law in three adult jewelry items purchased in September from WalMart. Illegal lead levels were found in black and brown plastic cords on two necklaces, and in a red plastic choker. The Attorney General’s office will also request that the company immediately stop sales of these products.

Last month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission requested comments on the technical feasibility of lowering the permissible lead levels in children’s products from 300 ppm to 100 ppm. Some industry representatives have argued that lowering the standard would force them to stop making certain children’s products.

In response, CEH submitted test data on more than 2,300 components of children’s products that the group tested between September 2009 and July 2010, showing that all of them are already meeting this standard. CEH also sent the Commission a copy of its March 2010 agreement with Dollar Tree stores, which requires the retailer to limit lead in children’s ponchos to no more than 40 ppm.

CEH is testing children’s products for compliance to the federal and California laws as part of a state compliance testing program, and is funded for this work by a grant from the California Attorney General that is administered by the nonprofit Public Health Trust. The nonprofit also tests jewelry for compliance with a legal agreement and with California law using a grant from the Proposition 65 Jewelry Testing Fund. The fund was established through litigation brought by the California Attorney General, CEH, and others.

For more information, see www.ceh.org

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