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More on unsafe products from China

The New York Times on August 6 confirmed that lead-poisoned trinkets are continuing to flood the American market, primarily from Chinese sources.  In addition to the recent recalls involving Mattel, Hot Wheels, Barbie, Thomas the Tank and other well-known products, children's inexpensive jewelry is also a pervasive problem.  Inspections of 85 jewelry items by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that twenty percent of imported children's jewelry posed a poisoning hazard.  Of the 17.9 million pieces of jewelry pulled from the market since 2005, 95 percent had their origin in China.  Health officials in Massachusetts, Maryland and Ohio found lead contamination (more than .06 percent lead content) as often as forty percent of the time in products investigated. 

        Despite reassurances by well-known sellers and manufacturers that the lead-poisoning problems have been solved in the past two years, federal and state authorities continue to find lead toxicity involving products sold at Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Safeway and K-Mart.  A give-away pendent embossed with the Reebok logo was recently removed from a young victim's stomach at autopsy.  Contamination has been found at levels more than 100 times greater than the mandated safe limit.  Product recalls are not adequate to ensure childrens' safety, as demonstrated by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's offer of a free DVD to customers who returned silver-coated charms containing lead.  Since the recall was announced in spring of 2006, only about 50,000 (6.7 percent) of the 746,000 charms recalled, have been returned.  Fox Home Entertainment is a division of Fox News, which, not surprisingly, has spent far more time reporting on Paris Hilton than it spends reporting on lead jewelry poisoning our children.

          Prodded heavily by the Sierra Club, the CPSC is finally considering a ban on lead in children's jewelry.  The only objection to the proposed ban contained in the 195 pages of public comment collected at the CPSC is a letter from the government of China, which argues that the ban is "unnecessary" and that it will increase the cost of jewelry and inhibit trade.  Since the Chinese government does not allow Chinese manufacturers to be sued for product liability, American consumers have no recourse against the source of dangerous products produced there.  Since Michigan tort "reform" eliminated liability for retailers of unsafe products, Michigan victims are often left without recourse altogether.

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