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Mattel fined $2.3m over lead in toys

By Jennifer C. Kerr
Associated Press / June 6, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Toy maker Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price subsidiary have agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty for importing and selling toys with excessive levels of lead.

The penalty is part of a settlement the companies reached with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which announced Friday that the toymaker had knowingly violated a 30-year-old federal ban on lead paint in toys.

The companies deny having willfully violated the ban.

The penalty stems from a series of recalls by Mattel and Fisher-Price in 2007, when the companies recalled nearly 2 million popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora, and other toys because of excessive levels of lead found in the paint on the toys.

The commission says the fine is the biggest for a lead paint violation involving children's toys.

Mattel and Fisher-Price were among dozens of manufacturers that yanked millions of Chinese-made toys from store shelves in the months leading up to the 2007 holiday shopping season. The recalls made parents uneasy as they shopped for gifts for small children.