Lead Paint Prompts Mattel to Recall Nearly 1 Million Toys

Mattel is recalling 967,000 toys, including 83 products featuring Sesame Street and Nickelodeon characters, because the products are covered in lead paint. The products are sold in retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Toys “R” Us.

More than 300,000 tainted toys, which include Elmo Tub Sub, the Dora the Explorer Backpack, and the Giggle Gabber, and may have a date code from 109-7LF to 187-7LF, have been bought by consumers in the United States. The toys were manufactured in a factory in China, whose factories have recently been sources of poisonous pet food, dangerous car tires, and lead paint on Thomas & Friends wooden toys.

Earlier this summer, RC2, the maker of Thomas trains, recalled 1.5 million trains and accessories because a Chinese supplier had coated them in lead paint. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) recommends that the toys be taken away from children to prevent the lead from being ingested. This is the 17th recall in 10 years for Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars.

The company said it did not know whether Chinese manufacturers with whom it contracted substituted paint from a supplier that Mattel had not certified or if a certified supplier caused the problem. It is highly unlikely that lead paint coated toys could have been manufactured in the United States. Regulations and industry standards would not permit it. But China uses lead paint, and the recent plethora of dangerous products manufactured in China (to say nothing of the Chinese government’s execution of a corrupt government regulator) indicates that the Chinese regulatory system may not at this time be capable of protecting consumers.

The Toy Industry Association is working with the CPSC on new regulations to require more stringent safety checks here and to secure the federal government’s assistance in blocking China from using lead paint. All of this underscores the importance of having a strong regulatory system in place to protect the public that would otherwise be vulnerable to harm.

Efforts by some to weaken the authority of the U.S. government to regulate industry, some of which efforts have been successful, will no doubt expose people, including children, to grave harm. Industry acting unfettered by regulation and without the concern of being held accountable by a jury in our civil justice system is a menace to all.

The CPSC estimates that there are 400 recalls each year. Recalls are posted on its website, which also offers suggestions for safety in the home and information geared for children. 31 recalls are listed for the just-ended July, 2007. The July recalls include pacifiers, Easy Bake ovens, TV stands (risk of tip-over), coffeemakers, microwave ovens, hammock stands, crib bumpers (entanglement hazard), sweaters, tire inflators, fire alarm system control panels, children’s clog shoes and off-road motorcycle brakes.

The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims involving dangerous and defective products . If you or someone close to you has been injured by a product that was not properly manufactured, designed or labeled, contact the offices of Levine & Slavit in New York or Long Island for their help. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and surrounding areas including Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients.

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