Business

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Elizabeth Dalziel/AP
A Chinese employee sets up a Mattel Barbie doll on a pedestal for display at a toy store in
Beijing, Nov. 18, 2008.

Lead Paint Settlement Costs Toymaker Millions

December 15, 2008 04:55 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As millions of parents head to toy stores to purchase Christmas gifts for their children, Mattel Inc. has just settled a suit about lead paint in toys.

Tightening Toy Safety

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On Dec. 15, 2008, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that Mattel Inc. reached a $12 million settlement with 39 states regarding the lead paint scare that affected children’s toys in 2007, according to Reuters.

In 2007, the toymaker recalled more than 18 million toys made in China because they contained small magnets, which can harm a child’s digestive tract if swallowed, and lead paint, which may cause brain damage or death if ingested.

Coakley reported that no children are believed to have been harmed by a Mattel product.

According to the settlement with Mattel and its Fisher Price unit, the company will apply stricter standards to “accessible lead in toys manufactured after Nov. 30,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Multiple Chinese-made products have been found to contain harmful additives in the past several months, including contaminated baby formula and tainted pet food.

Background: Dangerous imports

Parents were overwhelmed and confused when many Chinese toys were found to contain substances hazardous to children’s health. With 80 percent of toys coming from China, people were faced with the prospect of either continuing on as normal and endangering their children, or making an extra effort to buy American.

In 2007, the International Herald Tribune reported that two companies in China added harmful chemicals to wheat gluten and rice protein that were exported to the United States and put in pet food, killing or harming many American pets.

Reaction: Buying American-made goods

In the wake of poisonous pet food and dangerous children’s toys, more Americans are determined to buy domestic protects. A poor economy coupled with an increase in patriotism has inspired consumers and added fuel to the fire. Now, groups that have always fought for patriotic purchasing are getting more attention.

Roger Simmermaker, who wrote a book titled “How Americans Can Buy American” says that even in a global economy, buying American is easier than people think. “People can complain, well, 97 percent of the clothes we buy in the United States are imported,” he told MSNBC. “Well, I know where to find the 3 percent.”

Barbara Toncheff,  a consumer who has always made an effort to buy American, sees the poor quality products as further evidence to support her values. She sees patriotism as closely related to consumerism, explaining to MSNBC, “July Fourth should truly mean independence. We shouldn’t become dependent on the rest of the world.”

Last year, China knowingly imported contaminated pet food ingredients, causing the death of many American pets. In fall and winter of 2007, Chinese toys proved dangerous for children.

Those who wish to purchase safe, domestic products can seek them through online stores, such as the Dulcinea Media Store.

Reference: Find American-made products

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