Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lead-free under the tree

What do a Barbie accessory and some Disney toys have in common this holiday season? Well, according to the Center for Environmental Health (an advocacy group out of California), high levels of lead.

Whatever Lola wants...

"A little bit of lead never hurt anybody," you may be thinking. "Besides, Lola really wants a Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace for Christmas and I hate to disappoint her."

Alrighty then. Let's just ignore the potential for brain damage that can accompany exposure to lead. Irreversible brain damage, I might add.

Several retailers received letters from Jerry Brown, the Attorney General of California, informing them they were selling products containing illegal levels of lead and instructing them to pull these items immediately. The stores involved include: Target, WalMart, Walgreens, Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, and Sears. The products involved include:

Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace

Dora the Explorer Activity Tote

Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit

some children's shoes

a boy's belt

a child's poncho

History repeats itself

Remember the 2007 recalls of toys containing lead? There were over 2 million Mattel toys recalled alone. As a result, a law was passed in 2008 that limited the amounts of lead and other toxic chemicals that were permitted in toys and other goods for children under the age of 13. Obviously, some companies are gambling with not being caught breaking this law.

Apparently Mattel is not claiming responsibility for this "slip up." After all, they licensed the Barbie name to Bell Sports for the Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit, an older product which passed the lead safety tests prior to the passing of the law. Bell Sports claims they didn't know it was still on store shelves. Does the term 'inventory control' mean anything here?

Playmates Toys, the licensee for the Disney necklace, claims it was tested and complied with all consumer safety regulations prior to making its way to the store shelves.

So, naturally, no one is accepting blame here. But believe me, lawyers will find out who to point fingers at as soon as the first child suffers the effects of lead exposure. Just make sure it isn't one of your own little ones.

­Play it safe

Opt for non-toxic toys this Christmas. A great website for non-toxic and environmentally-friendly products for kids is where they carry a wide variety of brands from Germany, Thailand, China, the Netherlands, Canada, Egypt, Slovakia, Viet Nam, Peru, Guyana, Sri Lanka, UK, France, Turkey, India, Romania, and ... gasp ... the good ol' USA. Here is a list of American made brands (although some companies manufacture products in more than one country):

Barefoot Books

Camden Rose

Green Toys


Pixel Organics

Sarah's Silks

The Herbalist


You can shop for their products by category: Natural, Organic, Fairly Traded, Green, Recycled, Responsible, Multi-Use, and Phthalate-free.

This is a website worth checking out as you do your holiday shopping. And that's the Green Grandma's recommendation of the day.

Keeping it green and healthy,


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