Lawsuit Last Year Named State Lunchbox Giveaway Company for Lead Contamination

Oakland, CA – A Los Angeles company
identified yesterday as the producer of lead-tainted lunchboxes by the
California Department of Public Health was sued by Oakland-based Center for
Environmental Health (CEH) more than a year ago for high-lead levels in its
lunchboxes. The company, T-A Creations, has known for nearly a year and a half
about the lead problems in its lunchboxes.

While the Center has reached legal agreements to
eliminate lead hazards to children with twenty other retailers and producers of
children’s lunchboxes, T-A Creations has refused even to participate in
settlement talks with the group’s legal counsel.

“Unlike nearly every other lunchbox maker, this company
has refused to take action to protect children’s health,” said CEH Executive
Director Michael Green, who yesterday
testified on lead in children’s products to a U.S. House Energy and Commerce
subcommittee in Washington, D.C. “California children have been put needlessly
at risk. Our agreements with other lunchbox producers show that the industry can
make changes to eliminate lead from the lunch
menu.”

Independent testing commissioned by CEH in the spring of
2006 found a high lead level in a T-A Creations “Nueva Summer Challenge”
camp
lunchbox. The Center
discovered the lunchbox at a lead-testing day the organization sponsored at a
Peninsula elementary school. Testing found the
lunchbox contained over 2600 parts per million of lead, more than four times the
legal limit for lead in paint.

CEH notified T-A Creations about their lead-tainted
lunchbox in April of last year and filed its lawsuit against the company on
August 26, 2006. Just a month earlier, the Food and Drug Administration had sent
a sharply worded letter to lunchbox makers, warning them about lead risks in
vinyl lunchboxes. The FDA letter stated that “migration of lead to food” kept in
children’s vinyl lunchboxes could “reasonably be expected,” and urged producers
“to refrain from marketing such lead-containing
lunchboxes.”

Lead is a stunningly toxic metal. A long list of
problems has been linked to lead exposure: lowered intelligence, behavior
problems, cancer, strokes, high blood pressure, kidney problems, anemia,
cavities, and delayed puberty. Recent research links low levels of lead exposure
to low scores on school tests and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

According to today’s Los Angeles
Times
, when asked about the lunchboxes, T-A Creations President said
that “A lot of materials contain lead; we just don’t know how [much]….”

“It is outrageous for a company that has long known
about this problem to be so cavalier about exposing children to lead,” said
Green. “We hope that the state will take swift action to hold this company
accountable for putting profits ahead of children’s health.”

Photos of the lunchbox and a copy of the test result are available from CEH.

Please click here for more information on lead in vinyl lunchboxes.

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