Consumer Alert: Toxic Toys

Millions of products have been recalled recently due to contamination with lead or cadmium.

While government regulations restrict lead in children's products, cadmium is a newly recognized health threat in everyday products.

Consumer Reports' latest spot check of the marketplace turns up some concerns.

McDonald's recalled 12 million "Shrek" glasses in June. The designs contained cadmium.

Jewelry was also recently recalled because it, too, contained cadmium. And high levels of lead prompted the recall of a cloth book, belts, and coin purses this year.

Consumer Reports, with the help of an outside lab, just tested more than 30 children's and household products that testers suspected might contain heavy metals.

Most of the products did not contain potentially hazardous levels of lead or cadmium. But two were of particular concern.

A cell-phone charm from Claire's had very high levels of lead—levels that could be hazardous if a child swallowed the charm. And two Kidorable bumble-bee raincoats purchased late last year had worrisome levels of lead.

Kidorable says it has reformulated the raincoats, and they're now labeled "lead-free." Tests of coats labeled "lead-free" found only low or trace amounts of lead that were well below federal limits.

But Consumer Reports says "lead-free" assurances are not necessarily a guarantee.

Jewelry maker Christine Canny says beads she purchased from China were marketed as "lead-free."

Suspicious, she decided to have them tested. They all came back with high amounts of lead.

So despite tough standards on lead, Consumer Reports says potentially hazardous products are still making their way into the marketplace.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently working on restrictions for cadmium.

As a general rule of thumb, Consumer Reports says don't let children play with cheap metal jewelry, or even with your keys. Brass keys can contain lead.

To see whether any of the toys you own have been recalled, you can go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website, at www.cpsc.gov.


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