06 March 2008

What Ever Happened to Safer Toys?

You read with horror the holiday headlines about toys and baby product recalled due to lead contamination, and you adjusted your Christmas lists accordingly. But months have passed, and you have birthday parties galore to buy presents for. What’s still safe? What’s being done about toxic ingredients in toys now?

Toys ‘R’ Us has grabbed the bull by the horns with stricter new standards for products shipped to the company beginning this month:

  • more frequent third-party testing on each batch of products shipped to Toys ‘R’ Us
  • ensuring all product samples submitted for testing are selected by the company’s third-party, certified lab
  • date-coding all products
  • applying a more stringent standard of 90 ppm (parts per million) for lead in surface coatings versus the current federal standard of 600 ppm for all products manufactured exclusively for Toys ‘R’ Us
  • requiring substrate materials to meet a standard of 250 ppm for lead versus the company’s current standard of 600 ppm for all products manufactured exclusively for Toys ‘R’ Us
  • using lead-screening equipment to conduct company audits of all products at their point of origin and at various points in the supply chain

Furthermore, by the end of 2008, children’s products sold at Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores in the United States must be produced without the addition of phthalates. The company is also immediately eliminating nickel-cadmium batteries in items manufactured for Toys ‘R’ Us; this process is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

If you're not shopping at Toys 'R' Us, here's how to check up on specific toys.

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