Reducing Lead In Toys

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and 37 other state attorneys general today reached an agreement with two major toy manufacturers that will reduce the lead content in children's toys as of today. Under today's agreement, Mattel, Inc. and Fisher Price, Inc. will comply with future federally-mandated lead content limit reductions ahead of schedule. To ensure compliance with the agreement, both toy manufactures agreed to test their products' lead content levels and keep records indicating their products were subjected to testing.

"Today's agreement protects young Texans by helping to ensure that popular children's toys do not contain excessive, unlawful amounts of lead," Attorney General Abbott said. "Exposure to excessive levels of lead can cause serious health problems, particularly among children. The agreement reached today requires two of the nation's most popular toy manufacturers to strictly comply with federal regulations that limit lead in toys."

In 2007, Mattel and Fisher-Price voluntarily recalled thousands of toys that contained unlawful amounts of lead. The lead levels in the surface paints in the recalled toys exceeded 600 parts per million (ppm), which is the maximum lead content allowed under federal law. Some of the surface coatings on the toys had lead levels over 1,000 ppm, several samples tested at over 10,000 ppm, and some even tested over 50,000 ppm.

Small amounts of lead can impair brain development in children younger than 12 and high lead levels can lead to serious health problems, including seizures, comas or death.

Attorney General Abbott called upon Congress to pass the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which lowered the allowable lead levels in children's products. Though maximum amount of lead allowed in paint is currently 600 ppm, and the new law lowers the permissible level to 90 ppm in August 2009. The law requires further lead content reductions over the course of the next three years. These limits are as follows: 600 ppm by February 2009, 300 ppm by August 2009, and 100 ppm by August 2011, unless the Consumer Product Safety Commission concludes that it is not feasible to lower the amount to 100 ppm.

Texas laws do not establish lead limits for children's products.

Under today's agreement, the defendants must keep records indicating each product's manufacturer, manufacturing location and the results of tests performed on those products. The companies must proactively inform the state attorneys general if their testing confirms that their products contain excessive lead under the new standards. The companies will pay the 38 states $12 million to resolve the states' investigations, and Texas receives $379,879 under the settlement.