Mattel is voluntarily recalling 9 million of its toys — including Sarge brand cars; Batman action figures; and Barbie, Doggie Daycare, and Polly Pocket play sets — because of hazards to children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced Aug. 14.
The 7.3 million play sets and 1.5 million die cast cars, all made in China, either could have lead paint or contain small, powerful magnets that can be swallowed. According to the CPSC, if more than one magnet is swallowed, they could cause intestinal damage and other injuries.
The announcement comes just weeks after Mattel's Fisher-Price brand recalled from stores nearly 1 million its Dora the Explorer, Diego, and Sesame Street toys that "could contain" toxic levels of lead paint and 2 months after lead-paint concerns prompted the CPSC to recall 1.5 million Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys.
More About Recalls
Lead paint and magnets are only two of the many reasons products might be pulled from store shelves. Numerous items are recalled every week when the CSPC identifies a substantial hazard or a company reports a defect or concern. But how do hazardous items make it to the public in the first place?
Toys and children's jewelry must meet federal and industry safety standards (for things like lead paint, choking hazards, and sharp points). However, these products are not approved for safety by a federal agency before they're actually sold. Companies are expected to comply with the standards, whether they manufacture products in or import them to the United States. Testing, usually by an independent laboratory, is the only way companies can make sure their products meet all of the safety standards.
What This Means to You
Although lead paint was banned in the United States nearly 30 years ago, lead can still sometimes be found in paint in older homes and, occasionally, in toys and children's metal jewelry made today. Kids can ingest the dangerous, naturally occurring metal when they mouth or swallow something made with lead or lead paint, or when they simply touch it and then put their fingers in their mouths.
Coming into contact with a toy — or anything else containing lead — once or twice probably isn't cause for too much concern. It's continual exposure over a period of time that usually causes lead poisoning, which can bring on a host of health problems like learning and hearing disabilities, behavior problems, and delayed development. But even low levels of lead in a child’s blood can cause subtle difficulties with behavior and learning.
To help reduce kids' exposure to lead in your home:
- Have a professional test your water, the dust in your home, the soil outside, and/or the paint around your home if you have a home built before 1978. Home lead-testing kits can give unreliable results.
- Have kids tested for lead if you have any concerns about exposure. All children should be routinely tested at 1 year old and again at age 2.
- Avoid giving kids children's metal jewelry if they mouth on objects. Kids' jewelry may also contain small parts that could pose a choking hazard.
- Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat.
For more information on the toy recalls, go to the CPSC's website at www.cpsc.gov. Visit Mattel's website at www.mattel.com to see details, including pictures, of the items recalled recalled to find out if you might have some of the potentially hazardous toys in your home.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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