Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How much lead is safe in your toys?

Well, obviously, none would be nice but none is a tricky concept. 600 parts per million is the current US legal limit. That sure doesn't sound like much, does it? 600 out of a million?

According to an article in today's Baltimore Sun, Maryland is one of 25 states that is currently considering tainted toy measures in response to the 2007 recallpalooza of tainted toys. According to the article, the manufacturing, processing, packaging, storing or selling of such toys can result in a fine of no more $1,000 per day for each violation.

The bill lumps everyone who is involved in the production and sale of such products as potentially liable entities. While I'm as big a fan of making safer toys as anyone, this troubles me. With each of these states considering their own legislation to combat tainted toys, it would make it very difficult for toy manufacturers to meet the demands of each separate bill passed in the various states. Toys that are perfectly legal in states that have not adopted new legislation would be illegal across the border in the next state. As a toy buyer, I can certainly look at the histories of companies we deal with to determine how safe their toys have been in the past, but until companies catalogs or websites list the lead content of each toy, how am I supposed to know whether a toy is going to pass my state's laws?

Also interesting is how these laws will apply to the secondary market for toys. What about buying stuff off ebay? What about old antique toys?

What we really need are new federal laws that address the issue - make a standard law that manufacturers can deal with and retailers can depend upon when making buying decisions.

You can download the entire text of the bill on it's website here.