As remarkable as it may seem, the world’s largest toy maker has announced another recall of its products, which involves 800,000 Barbie accessories, Fisher Price train locomotives and bongo drums. The reason given for Mattel’s third recall was identical to the previous two; the presence of unacceptably high quantities of lead in the paint used to brighten these toys.
In early August, Mattel recalled 1.5 million toys featuring Elmo and other popular characters. Later in the same month, “Sarge” toy cars from the hit Disney movie “Cars” in addition to 9 million other toys containing tiny magnets were recalled. The total number of toys recalled by Mattel is now an incredible 19 million. The latest recall was announced jointly by Mattel and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (C.P.S.C.).
In September, a consumer watchdog web site Consumer Affairs.com published an article about a study done by a national non-profit agency called Kids in Danger, which proved that injuries among children in this country have more than doubled in the last five years compared to the previous ten years.
Despite these recent recalls, child safety experts are concerned that the market could still be flooded with these lead tainted toys. The government agency in charge of inspecting these products, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), has only 15 inspectors for the entire country. You read that correctly. The United States of America, a country of 300 million people, has a total of 15 people in charge of inspecting all toys that are placed into the marketplace.
What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the C.P.S.C. is not legally able to levy fines against companies that withhold information about a recalled product. According to the ConsumerAffairs.com article, Mattel has been accused of doing this on at least two occasions.
So, what can we Parents do to protect our children?
• Sign up for the C.P.S.C.’s recall alerts at www.cpsc.gov. Whenever there is a dangerous toy being recalled, you’ll receive an e-mail alert.
• Go on the site and check for past recalls and make sure you do not have any of these toys in your home. Also, share this information with family and friends.
• If you find any toys in your home that have been recalled due to lead, you should consider taking your children to their pediatrician for a check up, including blood work. Quite often, the symptoms from lead poisoning can lie dormant for years.
• When purchasing new toys for your children, fill out the recall registration card so the manufacturer can contact you directly in the event of recall.
Our children in the South Florida area are in need of our help to keep them safe. When the very things they love may do them serious harm it us up to us as parents to do what we can in our small neighborhoods as well. Speak up at your play groups, send out a message to all the parents in your child’s school, or volunteer to do a safety check in you child’s school or day care to weed out any suspect toys. This may be a national re-call but it has small town implications and touches us all the way down to our own child’s bedroom or playroom. So, let’s get together South Florida and make a difference one child at a time.