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Health group finds high lead levels in several toys

By Jennifer C. Kerr
Associated Press / November 19, 2009

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WASHINGTON - Toys carrying the Barbie and Disney logos have turned up with high levels of lead in them, a California advocacy group says - a finding that may give holiday shoppers pause.

The Center for Environmental Health tested about 250 children’s products and found lead levels that exceeded federal limits in seven. Lead can cause irreversible brain damage.

Among those with high lead levels: a Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit and a Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace. The group also found excessive lead in a Dora the Explorer Activity Tote, two pairs of children’s shoes, a belt, and a child’s poncho.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown wrote to Target, Wal-Mart, and other retailers who sold the seven products, warning that children’s goods with illegal levels of lead should be pulled immediately from store shelves.

The findings come about a year after a product-safety law ushered in strict limits on the amounts of lead and chemicals in products for children 12 and younger. Congress acted after a slew of recalls of lead-tainted toys in 2007, including several Mattel-related recalls that involved 2 million toys.

The Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif., did an initial round of testing and sent products singled out as having high lead to an independent laboratory for additional testing and confirmation.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating.

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