This post is primarily directed to my American visitors although any of you with kids or grandkids (or great-grandkids) might find it of interest..
This is a little different from the subjects I usually address here.
Parent Dish (formerly Blogging Baby) devotes much of its space to recalls. For the past few months, one of the writers has focused on toys containing lead - most from China. In the beginning, it was trinkets, mostly jewelry, that we see in all of the dollar stores.
It isn't just junk jewelry anymore and it isn't just the dollar stores. It's Mattel and Fisher-Price. Those of you with kids will recognize the names. You'll also recognize Dora the Explorer, Elmo, and especially Thomas the Tank Engine. For a while, when my girls were little, we were covered up with Elmos, all giggling or "rocking" at the same time but not necessarily in sync. Except for the damage to my own brain from the noise, I never thought twice about safety from an established brand that I trusted and thought I knew. All of my own kids had at least one Mattel "See & Say" and Fisher-Price may even go back to my generation.
And let's not forget the poisoned dog and cat food. My girls have outgrown most of Mattel and Fisher-Price, they've certainly moved past the 99¢ necklaces, but they haven't outgrown cats. Now I have to check recall lists for cat food. As for human food, I'm waiting for that shoe to drop.
It's approaching an epidemic.
Cooper & Emily of Been There and The Motherhood have written about it. (By the way, I recommend The Motherhood for those of you either with kids or interested in their welfare. Anything Cooper & Emily put their names to will be honest and worthwhile.)
This has nothing to do with economics or the political aspects of trading with China or any other nation. I'm not even going to get into the treatment of the workers. I'm not talking about outsourcing and the loss of American industry and jobs. They are all worthy subjects for another time and have been covered exhaustively by folks far more expert than I. It has everything to do with the safety of our kids, our animals, and ourselves.
I will say though, as an experienced shopper I've discovered how difficult it is to find products that are made entirely in the USA. For many of us, we buy what we can afford. I either watched or read online the other day about a couple who bought entirely made in USA products for an entire year. They were obviously in a much higher income bracket than I. It was difficult and it was expensive. I believe they went without one major appliance for months because there was no American replacement. Even items assembled here usually have foreign components.
Back to lead based products. Lead based paint has been banned here for years. Federal, state, and local ordinances are in place. In some areas, Public Health conducts inspections of older houses to check for paint. I know they do here. The dangers to children, including brain damage, have long been established.
And yet unsafe products are being allowed onto the shelves of our stores. It shouldn't be happening. By the time a recall is issued, how many little kids have been happily munching away on a toy containing lead? Far too many, I imagine.
Moms Rising, another group I've joined and promoted, has an online petition to Congress. I've signed it.
China seems to be the main offender; possibly because they are our largest importer. They must be pressured somehow to clean up their act.
Update: When I went back to The Motherhood to add this link to their discussion, I discovered a link to The Sierra Club They've compiled statistics and taken action. Interesting reading.
Update #2. I'd forgotten about the pacifiers being sold on line by American companies in Florida. I don't know where the crystals came from but obviously China isn't the only offender.
Update 3. My friend Tina just advised me that Mattel/Fisher-Price has a comprehensive recall list I looked it up and she's right. Thanks Tina.