I was somewhat surprised today to see how the NYTs is addressing the cadmium issue in their article, U.S. Seeks Limits on Cadmium for Toys and Jewelry. What really happened yesterday was the that CPSC asked the industry to self-regulate. The CPSC Chairman, Inez M. Tenebaum is quoted: “If we find those standards are insufficient to protect the health and safety of consumers, then we can move to a mandatory standard.”
Why are we waiting? I would have thought that after our experiences with the toy industry and dangerous lead levels–that we have learned our lesson about self-regulation. Leaving this to the industry also means a continued uncertainty about how to test for cadmium. As with lead the way you test can greatly impact the results. We agree with the Center for Environmental Health that the standard on the federal level should be the same as it is now in California–which bans children’s jewelry that contains more than 300 parts per million total cadmium. The “total” testing approach is superior to the extraction approach being used. The CEH points out that the extraction approach does not take into account the wear and tear that occurs.
This is a step in the wrong direction.
I recently did a radio interview with Richard Davies at ABC Radio. Richard commented that I was in a much better mood this holiday season. I do feel lighter this season–after a couple of years of being worried about the safety of toys being marketed and sold to children. The government is continuing to phase in the stricter testing requirements. We are also really pleased that companies across the board are complying with our safety standards (we have taken the end point of the federal regulations and made them a prerequisite for companies submitting toys to us). So yes, I am a whole bunch happier this year. Are there still safety issues? Yes. We still take issue with small pieces that “just” pass the choke tube test…or pull toys that no longer have a safety break-away feature…or wooden toys with splinters…or smelly and excessively noisy toys…you get the idea.
But it is important that we have safety groups that are still spot checking. The CEH (Center for Environmental Health) have recently released some testing that found unsafe levels of lead in children’s products. The non-profit is offering free toy testing in its Oakland office during the holiday season. For more info, visit www.ceh.org/dropintoytesting.
While we do not independently test each toy we review, we do require companies to submit and sign a safety verification form. We looking forward to the day when we no longer need such a form.