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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Get the Lead Out - Updated 8-3-07

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.


T*mmy said...

As a grandmother, I worry about recalls.
As a pet owner I worry about recalls.
I'm like you and waiting for the next boot to drop...which food will it be...are we eating it now??
Oh, but don't forget our own spinach scare...I don't even want the stuff now and I used to crave it. But what if it is something even bigger...spinach we could avoid...what if it is bread or milk or eggs all of our staples??
Scary thoughts these!
We don't realize how much trust we put in folks do we??

ancient one said...

I guess we'll all have to grow our own food and put it up as in days gone by. ( But this old body of mine cannot do what it could do years back.) As for the food, we'll just have to pray over it and trust GOD to make it nourishing to our bodies.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. I try to buy American whenever possible, but sometimes it's just not possible on my budget. Sad, really...

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Part of the problem seems to be U.S. corporations who depend upon China or other nations for cheap production of their products. Of course, the government of China reacts much differently to corruption and malfeasance than we do, as the recent trial and summary execution of Zheng Xiaoyu, head of China’s Food and Drug Administration, for accepting bribes that were linked to sub-standard medicines and blamed for several deaths demonstrates.

Dem Soldier said...

Man, they had this video which I can't find right now on youtube, that showed Chinese factory...ohhh I don't even know how the FDA allows Chinese goods into this country. The GOP and big-bussiness took control of this ones great department and country. Baddd for all of us.

Gina said...

Thank goodness we didn't have any of the recalled toys.

I agree with you, it's gotten totally out of control. But then again, we were never IN control to begin with, were we?

Diane J. said...

As you know since Emmy came along in May I'm now back in the habit of keeping abreast of any news to do with babies and children again. I've been following this story and since Emmy is only 12 weeks old we don't have any of the toys being recalled, but I still wonder about them missing something and her getting ahold of it later.

We can never relax our vigilance can we?

Thanks for the heads up, Ann.

Hope all is well with you and yours, my friend.

Love and hugs,


Meow (aka Connie) said...

I think it's terrible, the poor quality of so many items for sale out there. We here in Australia struggle to buy Australian Made items, just as you guys appear to with USA Made stuff. It's ridiculous, everything is Made in China, or Made in Taiwan, or whatever. Make life difficult if you want to buy quality stuff, and be loyal to your country by keeping the money there. It seems the same the world over.
Take care, Meow

Puss-in-Boots said...

We've had a big recall here of Fisher Price toys because of the lead content.

And, like you in the USA, it's almost impossible for us to find anything Australian grown/made. For the almighty dollar, everything's been sent overseas. Even the maintenance of Qantas aircraft is now done in Singapore and in the last couple of weeks, they have found slipshod practices, putting lives at I said, all in worship of the almighty dollar. Disgraceful.

clairesgarden said...

its worrying, but those 'high up' are only concerned with the weight of money in their own pockets.

Janice said...

Hi Ann,

I saw the recall on tv and thought horrified on how my own child stuck some toy in her mouth and chewed on it. Gulp.

I hope the recall get every last one, that's all we need; retard our youth with cheap toxic toys.


Yondalla said...

I was here.

That's all.

Imagine something interesting and insightful written in this spot.

Misspudding said...

I think it's interesting how it's so easy to just export manufacturing to a place with absolutely no environmental protection or any laws (for the most part) protecting people.

Gosh, it sure is cheaper. It sure makes it easier to buy those toys that aren't manufactured here anymore. They don't have to worry about labor or health care or how clean their water is. But we can sure as hell benefit from how cheap those toys are. Or wait...we do benefit, right?

Dragon said...

I can't believe that toys manufactured outside of the U.S. wouldn't be suject to the same standards as toys manufactured in the U.S. No wonder so many companies subsidize their labor to foreign countries-- not only is the labor cheaper, but the manufacturing costs are obviously cheaper because they don't have to use quality parts that they would be required to use if it was made here. How idiotic, indeed.