So we’re delighted to announce that we reached a safety standard for this holiday season with a large number of toy companies (both large and small). We’ve been working on this issue since the end of last year’s holiday season.
As you may recall our Platinum Award winners last year were tested with two independent labs. The final list included products that were determined to be lead free. We thought we could continue this policy but soon discovered that there can be trace amounts of lead. As a result, toy companies would not sign our safety verification form. We then moved to the American Academy of Pediatrics definition of trace amounts at 40 ppm. Several companies signed off at this level but not the majority. We spoke to many quality assurance managers — they all said basically the same thing–that there could be contamination in the toy making process that could easily bring a toy above the 40 ppm. At this point, we felt as if we were back where we started. Do we not review products? How would that work when it excluded many of the major toy companies.
After several weeks–we got a consensus. We now require companies to verify the following:
products do not exceed 100ppm for surface coated lead
products do not exceed 200ppm for substrate lead
product meets California’s law on phthalates
This is really a stop gap measure until the federal legislation kicks in (assuming the President signs the bill). We can not independently verify by testing the products we receive- but we have gotten companies to sign our form!
The federal legislation is chockful of good things from our point of view: mandatory third party testing, standards for testing; fines for non-compliance and more resources and oversight for the CPSC. What you may not know is that the lead levels for the bill are phased in–600ppm within 180 days of enactment; 300ppm within one year of enactment and 100ppm in three years.
So we were really pleased that we got so many companies to agree to the lower levels for this holiday season. As much as we’d love to claim victory–the pressure comes from a greater source in the free market system…the retailers responding to the demands of their consumers.
So now we can get back to looking at toys in terms of their play value.
As I write this, the cartons of new products are arriving-there are the new potty doll contenders, new wooden trains, new baby toys… It feels like the North Pole – fun, but not to worry, we’re working very hard!