Toy manufacturer Mattel Inc. will pay $12 million to 39 states in order to settle an investigation over lead-tainted toys made in China and sold in the United States in 2007.
Mattel and its subsidiary Fisher Price recalled more than 21 million of these defective toys fearing that excessive lead in many of these toys can cause brain damage in young children. Many of these toys also contained tiny magnets that young children could swallow accidentally. Our source for this blog was this Associated Press news report.
Mattel, as part of this $12 million settlement, has agreed to lower the acceptable level of lead in toys to 90 parts per million down from 600 parts per million, which is the federal standard now.
When new regulations go into place next year, the federal standard will also fall to 90 parts per million. California was one of the states that took part in negotiations for Mattel’s 12 million settlement, but also reached a separate agreement under its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. Nine toy companies, including Mattel, will pay California $1.8 million in this separate settlement.
I’m glad that Mattel and the other toy companies have been made to pay for putting profits ahead of the safety of American children. I also welcome the expected change to the federal standard that mandates the lowering of lead content in all toys that are made for U.S. markets.
However, I believe that Mattel and the other toy companies should be held accountable to individual consumers who have been seriously affected by these product defects. What about the young children, who have become brain-injured for life because of the high lead content in these toys? Mattel and other toy companies are refusing to pay for medical exams for those children who have been exposed to these dangerous toys. How is that taking responsibility? Consumers still have to resort to the court system to get these toy companies to do the right thing.