Aqua Dots, a/k/a Aqua Beads, a Chinese-made toy, was recalled Wednesday, November 7, 2007, by the Consumer Product Safety Commission after two children in the United States and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.
Aqua Dots are packets of brightly colored beads that children arrange into mosaic designs. When sprinkled with water, the beads then stick together in as little as 10 minutes to form durable artworks. The toy was pulled from shelves after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a dangerous, potentially fatal drug when eaten. The chemical coating on the beads, when ingested, metabolizes into the so-called date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB).
The United States places GHB in he same category as heroin. When eaten, the compound – made from common and easily available ingredients – can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.
The problem appears to be that the Aqua Dots were supposed to use 1,5-pentanediol chemical coating, a nontoxic compound found in glue, but instead contained the harmful 1,4-butanediol, which is widely used in cleaners and plastics. The Food and Drug Administration in 1999 declared 1,5-pentanediol a Class I Health Hazard, meaning it can cause life-threatening harm. It’s not clear why was substituted.
However, there is a significant price difference between the two chemicals. The price of 1,4-butanediol can cost more than 5 times the price for 1,5 pentanediol.
Speaking of recalls, today there were two. First, about 175,000 Curious George Plush Dolls were recalled, becoming the latest popular toy made in China found to be contaminated with dangerous levels of lead. The recalled dolls have a plastic face and are sold in five different models, including “birthday,” “fireman,” “sweet dreams,” “tool time” and “tool time with a soft face.” They were sold with Curious George story or activity books at toy and discount department stores nationwide from December 2005 through August 2007.
Second, about 51,000 Children’s Fashion Sunglasses, imported and distributed by Dolgencorp Inc. of Goodlettsville, Tenn., were also recalled today because of dangerous levels of lead. Children’s products found to have more than 0.06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.
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