Enviro But What Will The Children Play With If We Take All Their Lead Toys Away?
posted by March 27 at 17:17 PMon
So apparently, Governor Christine Gregoire may veto a law restricting the amount of lead, cadmium, and softening chemicals called pthalates in children’s toys. The new law would make Washington State’s toy standards the strictest in the country.
According to the Seattle P-I’s (insanely pro-industry) story:
Gregoire said that she met with Mattel and Hasbro officials and took their concerns to heart. She said she had been unaware of some restrictions established with the legislation.
As to whether she’d sign the bill, she said Wednesday morning: “I don’t know yet.” […]
“A lot of things in the law are very ill-defined,” Wahl said. “It doesn’t really define very clearly what a toy is or what a child is, which seem to be important, and a lot of the things that we sell might fall under the category of the law.”
The Sigmund Freud action figure, for example, likely wouldn’t appeal to an 8-year-old. The store does sell kid-friendly jars of bubbles, sewn-finger puppets and winking plastic rings.
“We are extremely active in making sure everything we have meets the federal product safety standard, but we think it’s a well intentioned law that’s going to have unintended consequences,” Wahl said.
“Washington state accounts for less than 2 percent of all toys sold in the United States. What will happen is a lot of the small- and medium-sized companies will just decide it’s cheaper to not sell to Washington state,” he said. “A lot of the companies will choose not to sell to us and if we decide to do the testing ourselves, we have 10,000 items in our store, it would cost about $5 million a year do that. It’s about $500 per test.”
Huh? Seriously, it’s like the P-I’s reporter didn’t even bother reading the bill—I really don’t know how you could and still think the language is somehow vague. From the bill itself:
“Toy” means a product designed or intended by the manufacturer to be used by a child at play.
There are also several lengthy definitions of children’s products, but all of them include the following phrase:
made for, marketed for use by, or marketed to children under the age of twelve
Moreover, the legislation applies only to companies that produce toys. They’re the ones who have to test them, not the seller. Most of the toys sold by Archie McPhee—
including the Sigmund Freud figure cited by the reporter (see below)—are made by other companies. Really, the only people that might be hurt by this legislation are toy manufacturers that market toxic products to children.
And you know what? Fuck them. The P-I story doesn’t manage, in more than 1200 words, to explain any of the specific problems caused by the chemicals the legislation would restrict, so allow me. Phthalates can disrupt kids’ metabolisms, damage their endocrine systems, and lead to sexual malformations such as decreased testicle size and “feminization” in boys. They can also damage children’s developing nervous systems. Cadmium, meanwhile, is a known carcinogen that’s associated with developmental problems, including delayed sensory-motor development, hormonal effects, and behavioral changes. And lead exposure causes learning and developmental problems and damages children’s nervous systems. Right now, the state regulates none of these toxins.
As for the argument that banning toxic chemicals in children’s toys will put manufacturers and sellers out of business: The European Union actually banned phthalates outright eight years ago, and toy manufacturers—most of them based in China—adapted. Now they produce phthalate-free toys for the European market, and phthalate-laced toys for us.
Come on, Gregoire. A Republican governor signed a total, statewide ban on phthalates last year. Surely the Democratic governor of Washington State should have the political backbone to do the same.
(Commenters have pointed out that the Freud action figure is made by Archie McPhee’s parent company. Fair enough. I still don’t think kids should be playing with it if it’s full of lead.)