Nine Companies Penalized for Selling Children's Products in Violation of the Federal Lead Paint BanJul 8, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced that nine children’s product manufacturers, importers, and sellers have agreed to pay a combined total of more than $500,000 in civil penalties for violating the federal lead paint ban.
The penalties settle allegations that the nine firms knowingly manufactured, imported, or sold toys and other children’s articles with paint or other surface coatings that contained lead levels in violation of federal law. The Commission has provisionally accepted the settlements.
Lead can be toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health consequences. For instance, exposure to lead can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems in children and unborn children. Even at very low levels, lead is harmful to children’s health and, at elevated blood lead levels, children experience neurological problems, anemia, lower IQ scores, and shortened attention spans. At elevated levels, children can also suffer from comas, seizures, and death.
These nine firms’ products were recalled in 2007 and 2008, and include items such as toys, children’s metal jewelry, children’s pens, metal water bottles, pencil pouches, sunglasses, and children’s Halloween pails and baskets. Tests revealed that paint or surface coatings on these children’s products contained lead in excess of 600 ppm, or 0.06 percent, by weight. One firm’s testing revealed that its products contained surface coatings with nearly 60 percent lead. In 1978, a federal ban was put in place that prohibited toys and other children’s articles from having more than 0.06 percent lead (by weight) in paints or surface coatings.
CPSC has ordered the following firms to pay civil penalties to the federal government:
- Cardinal Distributing Co. Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland: $100,000
- Dollar General Corp., of Goodlettsville, Tennessee: $100,000
- Family Dollar Stores Inc., of Matthews, North Carolina: $75,000
- Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: $50,000
- First Learning Company Ltd., of Hong Kong: $50,000
- Michaels Stores Inc., of Irving, Texas: $45,000
- A&A Global Industries Inc., of Cockeysville, Maryland: $40,000
- Raymond Geddes & Co, of Baltimore, Maryland: $40,000
- Downeast Concepts Inc., of Yarmouth, Maine: $30,000
Most recently, New York Governor David A. Paterson announced the creation of the Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of Childhood Lead Poisoning as well as increased funding for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program (CLPPPP), among other initiatives to reduce lead poisoning rates in children.