Crackdown on Toxic Toys

Mother of two Jen Anibal is choosy when it comes to her kids' toys.

"Because kids touch them, the put them in their mouths, they chew on them, even older kids tend to chew on some toys," Anibal says.

She worries about chemicals her children could come in contact with -- a valid concern. In the past few years, there have been a rash of toy recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Mr. Potato Head, Barbie dolls, all contain chemicals that have been found to be harmful to children, like arsenic," says Rep. Mark Meadows, (D) East Lansing. "We want to make sure that parents have the opportunity to make the decision themselves as to whether their children should have these toys."

So house democrats are introducing legislation that gives parents a right to know about chemicals in toys. It would require manufacturers to report exactly what chemicals they use when they make children's products.

"This new plan that we have, the Children's Safe Products Act, will provide parents and consumers with a registry of good information so that they can make responsible choices about what products they choose to bring home for their child to wear and play with," explains Rep. Rebekah Warren, (D) Ann Arbor, the sponsor of the package.

The plan requires the Michigan Dept. of Community Health to identify "chemicals of concern," defined as those known to cause cancer, reproductive or developmental harm, brain damage, or hormone disruption, by 2011.

Manufacturers would need to identify products that contain any "chemicals of concern," as well as how much of the chemical they contain, and the reason for using the chemical in the product.

Manufacturers that don't comply with the act would be fined up to $5,000 for a first offense. A second offense would cost up to $25,000, and a third offense would cost up to $50,000.

A manufacturer that knowingly ignores the act would be fined up to $150,000.

That's a penalty parents support, so manufacturers are held accountable for their toys.

"We buy them as consumers and we would like to know what's in the toys, especially when we bring them into our homes," Anibal says. "And if we have kids who, maybe, their immune systems aren't as great, or maybe they're just more affected by those types of things, we should, as parents, be able to know that."

The package of bills will be introduced to the state house this week.


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