Legal Action Forces Wal-Mart to Pull Lead-Tainted Baby Bibs in Three States

Oakland, CA – The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today announced that their legal action has resulted in Wal-Mart stopping the sale of the company's store-brand baby bibs from stores in California, after independent testing found high levels of lead in the vinyl bibs. Testing commissioned by CEH found that one of the Baby Connection brand vinyl (PVC) bibs, which were sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores, had a lead level of 9700 parts per million (ppm), more than 16 times greater than the legal limit for lead in paint.

After learning about the lead-contaminated bibs from CEH, the states of Illinois and New York also tested the bibs and found high lead levels, and today announced that Wal-Mart would also stop selling the bibs in those states indefinitely. However, it is unclear whether Wal-Mart is planning to resume selling the tainted bibs in its stores elsewhere in the U.S. or abroad.

"These vinyl bibs pose a lead poisoning threat to infants and toddlers who are at the most vulnerable age," said Caroline Cox, Research Director at CEH and author of a report on lead in baby bibs released by CEH today. "As every parent knows, young children commonly chew and suck on their bibs, so if the bib is contaminated, children are being directly exposed to lead."

CEH was first alerted to the problem of lead in baby bibs from Marilyn Furer, a Chicago-area grandmother who used a home lead test on her grandson's bib after she learned that CEH found high lead levels in vinyl lunchboxes. Noticing her grandson Jensen chewing on his bib, Ms. Furer became concerned. Her concern grew after the home test indicated that lead was present on the surface of Jensen's bib. She sent the lead-tainted bib to CEH, which then began its own investigation. The Illinois Attorney General today announced a statewide recall of the Wal-Mart bibs, based on their own testing that found lead levels over the state's legal limit for lead in children's products.

Like many vinyl products, the lead-contaminated bibs sold in Wal-Mart are generally made overseas, often in China. "Who is accountable for letting these contaminated products into our country?," said Ms. Furer. "Where are the standards, the testing, and the enforcement for keeping lead out of children's products?" Legislation introduced by Congressmember Waxman and Senator Obama would set strict federal standards for lead in any product marketed for children under age six, but the bill has languished in Congress.

Independent lab tests commissioned by CEH in 2006 and 2007 found high lead levels in four Wal-Mart bibs purchased in California. In December 2006, CEH informed Wal-Mart that the lead levels in their bibs violate California law. The New York Attorney General's office also tested the bibs and found high lead levels, and today urged parents to consider discarding the Wal-Mart bibs.

CEH recommends that parents avoid vinyl bibs and replace any vinyl bibs with organic cotton bibs or bibs made from other safe materials. "There is no reason that children should be exposed to lead from their baby bibs," said Cox. "Parents need to know that vinyl is a poison plastic that doesn't belong near their kids."

CEH has a ten-year track record of protecting children from hidden lead risks in consumer products, using legal action to eliminate lead threats from vinyl lunchboxes, baby powders, children's medicines, imported candies, and metal and vinyl jewelry.

Click the following link for the CEH report, "An Unnecessary Poison: Babies, Bibs and Lead"

 

 

UPDATE:

CPSC Follows Lead-Lunchbox Cover-up with Nonsense on Lead-Tainted Baby Bibs

Today, the Center for Environmental Health announced that independent laboratory tests found high levels of lead in newly purchased baby bibs made by Wal-Mart. The Attorneys General of Illinois and New York also tested the bibs and found similarly high lead levels. Both Illinois and New York took action to protect children from this lead risk, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has released a scientifically unsupported statement that may confuse parents about these risks, stating that the bibs are only a risk if they "are worn or have deteriorated." In fact, since infants and young children often chew and suck on their baby bibs, they are highly at risk of harmful lead exposures even from new bibs that repeated tests by three labs have found to have high lead levels.

In January, the Associated Press reported that after CEH exposed high levels of lead in vinyl children's lunchboxes, CPSC covered up their own test results showing high lead levels in the lunchboxes, and then changed their test method to show artificially lower levels of lead [please click here]. In that case, CPSC also rejected the findings from independent test results showing high lead levels, while refusing to make public their test data.

CEH is today demanding that CPSC retract its statement on lead baby bibs and calling on CPSC to follow the lead of the state of Illinois by ordering a nationwide recall. "If they refuse to accept the scientific findings of three laboratories, it will be clear that the Consumer Product Safety Commission cannot be trusted to protect children from lead poisoning," said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. "The public cannot have any confidence in an agency that repeatedly minimizes clear and present threats to our children's health. Americans deserve protection from unsafe products, but CPSC seems more interested in protecting industry than our children."

This week, the Senate Commerce Committee is expected to hold a hearing on President Bush's nomination of industry-lobbyist Michael Baroody for the top job at CPSC. CEH has called on the Senate to reject the nomination and urge the President to name a true champion of public health to turn around the troubled agency. 

The CPSC statement is at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07175.html