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  • « The Dirt on Cleaning Your house | Main | Lead in Kids' Toys a Crisis »

    Toxic Toys from China #2

    Dora The announcement on August 2 that Mattel was recalling almost a million toys because they were covered in lead paint has parents seeing red.  Just a month ago, I was urging a boycott of Chinese toys based on the lead found in Thomas the Tank Engines. Now we have to scoop up Dora the Explorer and Elmo before our children can put them in their mouths or otherwise suffer harm. These are toys, for goodness sake. And still, they’re not safe.

    The problem seems to be three-fold. First and foremost, the toys are being manufactured in China, where safety laws are lax to say the least. We know Chinese factories have also exported poisonous pet food and dangerous car tires. It makes you wonder if you can even buy chopsticks from China and not worry about getting sick.

    Kid_toy_2 Second, the U.S. government does not do enough to regulate the safety of toys coming into our country from abroad. Essentially, the toy industry is allowed to be its own watchdog -- which means the dog isn’t doing a lot of watching. Legislation introduced by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Florida Senator Bill Nelson would require third-party testing of imported and domestic toys and goods aimed at children 5 years old or younger, but it’s only just beginning to make its way through the policy processes on Capitol Hill.

    Third, toy stores themselves are not holding manufacturers accountable enough for the products they sell. Safety needs to be verified before a toy leaves China, not after it gets into a child’s play room. In the case of the current recall, Mattel says more than 300,000 tainted toys have been bought by consumers in the United States. Were those toys being sold at stores and online even after Mattel notified retailers of the danger they posed to their customers?

    While answers to these questions sort themselves out, you can take action. If you haven’t already done so, visit for information on how to return any contaminated toys you’ve bought.

    Mom’s Rising is organizing a Congressional petition for children's safety at:

    Contact the toy company where you shop to encourage more responsible monitoring and sourcing from countries other than China:


    Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
    Thomas A. Debrowski, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Operations
    Mattel, Inc.
    333 Continental Boulevard
    El Segundo, CA 90245-5012 (310) 252-2000 tel

    Lee Scott, CEO
    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
    Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611 (800) 925-6278

    Toys R Us
    Joan Donovan. Sr. VP General Merchandise Manager
    Toys"R"Us, Inc. International Division
    1 Geoffrey Way Wayne, NJ USA 07470 (973) 617-3500

    K-B Toys100 West Street
    Pittsfield, MA 01201(413) 496-3000

    Robert J. Ulrich, CEO
    1000 Nicollet Mall
    Minneapolis, MN 55403 (Map)
    Phone: 612-304-6073
    Fax: 612-696-5400

    To find earth-friendly toys that are not decorated with lead paint, visit.

    For tips on how to keep your baby's toys safe, see these suggestions from


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    Gift of Green

    Unfortuate as well that the vouchers Mattel are providing, according to their website, are not valid toward the purchase of licensed toys - meaning Dora/Diego and Sesame Street characters toys - precisely the ones that they are recalling.


    I didn't realize that! Isn't that so typical?!!!

    Paul Berg

    Walmart is opening a store here in Juneau, Alaska. As a teacher in this community for many years, and a grnadparent, I am concerned about the influx of cheap Chinese made items, especially toys, which may contain toxic chemicals. The pay which Walmart is offering in Juneau is laughable. These are McJobs. A couple working full time at Walmart cannot afford to buy a house. At best, they could rent a small apartment. I have sent Walmart a message saying that I wanted to see American made toys on their shelves when they open. If, as I suspect, the shelves are filled with cheap Chinese made toys, is there any way I can arrange to have a selection of the toys tested for lead paint or other toxic contamination? My email is

    Diane MacEachern

    Regarding getting toys tested: why don't you get in touch with the local health department, local environmental organization, or a consumer's group, and work together to do some testing of the toys? You might even be able to find a lab at the university to do the testing for you as a public service. Good luck.

    x-ray fluorescence

    I am concerned more about the influx of cheap Chinese made items, especially toys, which may contain toxic chemicals..

    Diane MacEachern

    Look for toys made in the USA from lead-free paints, organic cotton fabrics, and recycled materials. Buying fewer toys is a smart strategy, too. Most kids have way more toys than they need. Thanks for writing!

    Playmobil Life in the City

    This should be a lesson to all consumers. They should be aware enough of the chemicals or materials used in their toys that they are purchasing. Avoid those toys which you think not safe for our kids.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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