Toy maker Mattel Inc. will pay $12 million to 39 states to settle an investigation over Chinese-made lead-tainted toys shipped to the United States in 2007. Mattel and its Fisher Price unit recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys last year, beginning in August, fearing the items were tainted with lead paint and tiny magnets that children could accidentally swallow. All the affected toys were pulled off store shelves by December 2007. Also, as part of the settlement agreement, Mattel agreed to lower the acceptable level of lead in toys shipped to the states to 90 parts per million, down from 600 parts per million, which is currently the federal standard. When new regulations go into place next year, however, the federal standard will also fall to 90 parts per million.
States taking part in the settlement are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. It should be noted that there are still class action suits filed by consumers that are pending and aren’t affected by this settlement.
California also took part in negotiations, but reached a separate agreement under its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, and as a result fared better than the other states. As part of that agreement, nine toy companies, including Mattel, will pay California $1.8 million over lead-tainted toys. In addition to paying the $1.8 million, the toy makers will accelerate reductions in the levels of toxic lead in consumer products to settle California’s case. The California case was pursued under that state’s Proposition 65, an initiative approved by voters in 1986. The agreement concluded a lengthy investigation and legal battle that followed a series of recalls of toys, lunchboxes and novelty items imported from China and other developing nations that contained unsafe levels of lead.
Source: Associated Press
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