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E-M:/ FW: Consumer Agency Moves to Ban Toxic Toy Jewelry

Enviro-Mich message from "Rita Jack" <rita.jack@sierraclub.org>

December 5, 2006

Eric Antebi 415-977-5747
Jessica Frohman 301-518-4370


            Government Move a Response to Sierra Club Petition

In a victory for children's health and the environment, a key federal
agency took an unprecedented step to protect millions of America's children
from toxic lead poisoning by banning leaded toy jewelry.  In responding to
a formal request by the Sierra Club, the Consumer Product Safety Commission
staff formally recommended that the agency invoke a nationwide ban on toy
jewelry marketed to children containing more than 0.06% lead.

"The Commission is doing a huge favor to parents by calling for a total ban
on toy jewelry with unsafe levels of lead," said Jessica Frohman, who
chairs the Sierra Club's National Toxics Committee.  "No matter how
vigilant parents are in protecting their kids, they are never going to be
able to do on their own what the federal government can."

The Commission is expected to make a final decision on December 11, 2006
Traditionally, staff recommendations are a good indication of where the
agency is headed.

Lead can affect brain development of young children and has been directly
linked to a wide range of learning disorders. More than 300,000 American
children have blood lead levels high enough to cause irreversible damage
according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Every one of these cases is
avoidable.  (Tips on keeping children safe from lead jewelry can be found
at http://www.sierraclub.org/healthycommunities/lead/.)

After a child in Minnesota died as a result of eating a pendant containing
lead on a pair of Reebok shoes earlier this year, the Sierra Club
petitioned both EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging
preventative action.  In marked contrast to the proactive approach of the
Commission, EPA denied the Sierra Club's petition.  Specifically, the
agency refused to require companies to submit health and safety studies
regarding lead in their products and to require companies who already had
products recalled for lead to document that they have protections in place
to stop it from happening again.  In September, the Sierra Club, with
support from the state attorneys general from New York and Illinois, went
to court to force EPA to take action to protect families.

"American families really need EPA to work together with the Consumer
Product Safety Commission to get toxic toys off of store shelves and out of
vending machines," added Frohman.  "Without both agencies doing what they
can, moms and dads will be fighting this problem with one hand tied behind
their backs."

While lead paint in older homes is the major cause of childhood lead
poisoning, many children are also being exposed to toxic lead through the
toys they love.  The use of lead in both costume and children's jewelry
continues to be common.  Toy jewelry poses a particular problem because of
the high likelihood that young kids put them in their
mouths and may even swallow them.

Toy jewelry made from lead is widely sold in vending machines, dollar
stores, and stores that primarily sell to new immigrant communities, but
these harmful products can also be found on the shelves of major retailers.
Since 2004, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has researched and
tested hundreds of pieces of jewelry for lead.  CEH took legal action
against the retailers and manufacturers of these products, resulting in
industry wide reformulations and binding agreements with close to 100
companies nationally, including J.C. Penny, Target, Mervyns, Sears, Toys R
Us, and Kmart. (A full list of stores can be found at

Some state and local health departments, including the Indiana State
Department of Health and Baltimore City Health Department, have also been
undertaking their own investigations and ordering recalls.  But that
approach has limitations, which is why the Sierra Club's case has the
support of the attorneys general from New York and Illinois and the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, among others.

To read the Sierra Club petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission,

For a copy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission's official
recommendation, contact Eric Antebi 415-977-5747.


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